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Fresh Faces: Tahiti Tourisme CEO Jean-Marc Mocellin

Mostly spared coronavirus, Tahiti is already on the 'starting blocks' in preparation for tourism. Recently appointed Tahiti Tourisme CEO JEAN-MARC MOCELLIN reveals what Aussie visitors can expect to find there and shares some of its lesser known highlights.


Where was the last place you travelled and where would you like to travel to next?

Besides my business trips, I have explored Asia quite extensively - and the last place I discovered there was Myanmar.

My other continent of predilection is South America, and after visiting Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil several times, I am planning to visit Colombia.


Besides your passport, what’s one thing you never travel without?

Unfortunately - but like most people - I never go anywhere without my smartphone to keep in touch with my office.


Why did you take up the role at Tahiti Tourisme?

Tahiti is home for me. I have lived and worked in Tahiti for 23 years - far more time than in all the other 11 countries I have worked in, including my native island New Caledonia, which I left after college.

While French Polynesia’s tourism performances were booming before COVID-19, working for a destination where tourism is the main economic driver is rewarding as the government policies and orientations take our industry parameters into account.

It is a unique opportunity for me to contribute to developing a sustainable tourism sector, which is respectful of the environment and people.


Tell us something people might not know about Tahiti?

When you arrive in Tahiti, you will be struck by the spontaneity and authenticity of the population, where the culture has remained very strong and alive.

The warm interactions you will have with the locals are not the result of efficient tourism industry training; it is in the nature of the Polynesians, which makes your vacation experiences very genuine and memorable.

Also, people don’t realise the size and the diversity of the islands of Tahiti. Most travellers are familiar with the famous islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine and Bora Bora that are indeed the most popular, but there is so much more to discover. 

There are 118 islands that make up French Polynesia, which is spread over a territory as large as Europe, and where remoteness has enabled each archipelago to keep its own identity.

In the center, the Tuamotu group of atolls is a diverse paradise, with Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world, and Fakarava, where a multitude of marine species interact in their passages (manta ray, dolphin hammerhead sharks...).

In the extreme south, we have the Australes archipelagos, whose climate is very cool, and which has one of the best spots in the world for whale watching - Rurutu. 

And last but not least, in the far north, you have the Marquesas Islands, which are rich in culture and renowned for their Art of Tatau dance. Each of these archipelagos deserves to be discovered.


Tell us one thing that’s coming up for Tahiti that’s got you excited. 

Like everyone in tourism, we are eager to see this crisis end.

Our islands have been relatively spared from the pandemic and the government is taking all measures to keep Tahiti safe for its population and its visitors; we are therefore on the starting block to take action with all stakeholders locally and in each of our markets such as Australia and NZ to bring colours back to Tahiti Tourism… Sunnier days Ahead!

In the meantime, we invite people to keep dreaming about The Islands of Tahiti with our new series video, Tahiti Comes To You. Visit our website to discover more.


What’s your top travel tip?

Regardless of your style of travel, remain a humble and respectful traveller towards the local population. You will be amazed by how you will benefit in return and the experiences that will open up to you.


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Written by: Jean-Marc Mocellin as told to Mark Harada
Published: 26 April 2020

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