Subscribe to Newsletter

A very Pacific point of view: interview

CAROLINE BRUNEL, Account Director, Tahiti Tourisme, Australia and New Zealand, explains why agents will be crucial to the recovery of South Pacific destinations after the coronavirus pandemic.


How optimistic are you of a South Pacific travel bubble happening?

Very optimistic, but ultimately the decision is dependent on so many other factors. We are of course pushing for as soon as possible, but that doesn't mean we want the bubble at any cost. 

The health and safety of the people of the nations we represent must come first and we feel confident that the virus has been successfully managed in all of the destinations we represent -and that it will stay that way.


Can the tourism industry bounce back from COVID-19?

Absolutely. We are already seeing a subtle bounce back through the level of search and enquiry. 

I believe that a lot of people will be more cautious and where and when they travel, but there will also be a contingent of people who are desperate to start their revenge travel and as life returns to normal, the rate of travel will continue to increase.


What will SP destinations have to do to attract tourists back?

Remind people of why our destinations are so wonderful and get people excited about travel again. 

I believe that in the short term at least, a big part of any destination's marketing is going to be around the precautions and safety measures in place.

It's unrealistic to think that everyone will immediately travel like they used to, so any promotion is going to need to respond to the new state of play and address the biggest concerns that travellers are going to have.



Obviously they will also have to convince travellers they are safe.

The Islands of Tahiti has been very proactive in introducing strong protocols around arrivals and expected behaviour while in the Islands. Collectively the islands that the lobby group represents only reported 88 cases of COVID-19, so the destinations are incredibly safe. 

The correct management of inbound visitors via the protocols that are in place are designed to keep it that way.


Can any positives be drawn from recent events?

There is no doubt that for many of us, these past few months have been some of the most -if not the most - challenging of our careers. But at the same time, the results of the pandemic have forced a lot of us to work smarter, think differently and focus on what's really important. 

We've had to innovate and rediscover what makes our destinations unique and compelling. We've also seen the travel industry come together with a level of support and positivity that is just heartwarming and it has made me so proud to be part of it.


What role will agents play in the South Pacific recovery?

We have been working hard to ensure that we continue to support and engage with agents during this incredibly difficult time and we have seen a tremendously positive response from agents to that and the destination. 

I think that, post COVID, some travellers in particular will be looking for advice and support from professionals more than ever. 

When it comes to understanding the ins and outs of post COVID travel - especially international travel - a lot of people are going to be looking for the kind of professional support and inside knowledge that only a travel professional can offer.


Click here to read the latest issue of traveltalk Click here to read the latest issue of traveltalk
Written by: Caroline Brunel as told to Traveltalk
Published: 21 July 2020

comments powered by Disqus