By Victoria M. Walker
French Polynesia has been a popular destination for travelers seeking a mid-pandemic getaway. But as COVID-19 continues to surge around the world, the collectivity of France, which includes the sought-after islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, is shutting down for now.
A rep for Tahiti Tourisme North America confirmed to TPG that French Polynesia would “temporarily” shut down for all tourists until further notice.
“Faced with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases around the world and in order to preserve French Polynesia which has for its part, shown significant improvement for several consecutive weeks, the authorities have decided to temporarily suspend travel to The Islands of Tahiti including for tourists from all origins until further notice,” an update on the official tourism website reads.
A bulletin originally posted by the French site France Info stated that starting Feb. 3, travelers to or from French Polynesia would “have to justify that his situation falls under one of the three imperative reasons: personal/family, health [or] professional.” Family reasons include situations like the death of a relative, health reasons include a “vital medical emergency” and professional reasons include healthcare workers combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. All acceptable reasons require documented proof.
Travelers currently in French Polynesia will be allowed to continue their trips.
If you have a trip planned, you’re likely wondering what this means for you. We’ve reached out to Air Tahiti Nui and United Airlines for clarification on what travelers with trips booked in the coming weeks should know about their reservations.
French Polynesia officially reopened to tourism on July 15, 2020. The island nation implemented a 14-day quarantine period for international travelers back in March, a measure that appears to have been successful. According to Johns Hopkins University, French Polynesia has recorded over 18,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 131 deaths.
Travelers to French Polynesia have had strict entry requirements, including proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within three days before departure and completing a health registration form. Once in French Polynesia, travelers must complete a self-test four days after arrival. There is currently a curfew between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. The curfew is scheduled through Feb. 15, 2021.