Samoa, French Polynesia ties

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POLYNESIAN TIES: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and French Polynesia President, Edouard Fritch during the recent Polynesian Leaders Group meeting in Tahiti.

POLYNESIAN TIES: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and French Polynesia President, Edouard Fritch during the recent Polynesian Leaders Group meeting in Tahiti.

The President of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch, will lead a high-level delegation from Tahiti on an Air Tahiti Nui flight with 329 passengers – including senior Cabinet Ministers, senior government officials and business associates - to Samoa.

They are coming for the Grey family opening of the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Beach Road, Apia, according to Manuel Terai, special advisor to the French Polynesia government.

On Friday, President Edouard Fritch will join Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi at the celebration where they will be given a preview of the facilities and a taste of services at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows.

According to Mr. Terai, among the French Polynesian delegation are the Minister of Tourism, Jean Christophe Bouissou, Minister of Economic Development, Teva Rohfritsch, Minister of Culture, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Senator Lana Tetuanui, former President of French Polynesia, Gaston Tong Sang.

Also in the delegation are the CEO of Bank Polynesie Tahiti, Christian Carmagnolle, Deputy CEO Bank of Tahiti, Emile Achkar, CEO Bank Socredo, James Estall, the owners of Pacific Energy (the Pacific’s largest supplier and distributor of fuel) Albert Moux and his son Patrick who are also owners of Vodafone Tahiti, CEO of Satnui Stevedoring New Caledonia and French Polynesia, Eric Malmezac.

The Chairman and CEO of Air Tahiti Nui, Michel Monvoison, CEO of French Polynesia Tourism, Paul Sloan, CEO of South Pacific Hotel Management Group, Laurent Bessou, the owner of the World Famous 6 Star Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Thierry Barbion, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Vanaa Chin Loy, the owner of French Polynesia’s Largest Brewery, Jean Pierre Foucard are all coming.

They will be accompanied by the world Famous Tahiti Ora Dance Troupe which will perform live for an hour at the Hotel opening courtesy of the French Polynesia government.

Mr. Terai said the government and People of French Polynesia will be here to celebrate a milestone in the opening of the 200 room, suite and bungalow property. 

Since 2011 and 2012 when the Grey family first purchased there 4 Major Resorts in French Polynesia, the Government and people of French Polynesia have stood by the Grey family and their endeavors in our Islands and now employ more then 500 people. 

This is a testimony to them not just in French Polynesia but also in Samoa where I hear they are one of the biggest private employers. And it is an excellent partnership between our Polynesian states.

Set to open proper to the public next month since the devastation of Cyclone Evan in 2012, Friday’s launch is special for the relationship between Samoa and the tourism mecca of the South Pacific, Tahiti.

It is yet another step in the right direction as the two Polynesian countries look to strengthen the links in terms of tourism development.

According to Mr Terai, President Fritch’s trip to Samoa follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Polynesian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui (A.T.N) last year for flights to, from and beyond Samoa and Tahiti.

The deal with A.T.N "opens Samoa up to Asia, North America and Europe directly.” It also allows for the possibility of flights to Japan and other countries in Asia. We have now presented our case to Polynesian Airlines and we await their feedback on whether and when they wish for us to begin Joint Flights with them and open Samoa up.

According to Mr Terai, if all goes to plan, there will also be a Los Angeles/ Apia /Auckland/ Apia/ Los Angeles flight twice a week, utilizing one of Air Tahiti Nuis’ five Aerobus A340 - 300 jets which currently can seat 30 in Business Class and 264 in economy class.

Last year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa hailed the agreement as a massive leap in the right direction for Samoa.

"This working together of Polynesian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui is in the true spirit of Polynesian cooperation and brotherhood," he said. 

 “It is in line with the Polynesian Leaders Group’s vision of connecting all Polynesian countries with the larger metropolitan centres, with which much of our trade occurs.

“This partnership will indeed provide the much-needed tourism resolve that we so desperately need. Samoa and indeed the Polynesian Islands are well positioned to benefit from the safety of our region.”

Air Tahiti Nui is a global player with twice daily flights to Los Angeles from Tahiti, daily flights to Paris, three flights a week to Auckland and twice weekly flights to Narita, Japan utilizing its fleet of 5 Aerbus A340 - 300 Aircrafts. 

Air Tahiti Nui also has a domestic arm in Air Tahiti, which services 41 domestic airports within the French Territories 118 Islands using a fleet of 12 ATR Twin Turbo Prop Aircraft. It also services the Cook Islands from Tahiti once a week using an ATR Twin Turbo Prop Aircraft.

Mr. Fritch has been the President of French Polynesia since September 2014.

Previously he had served as the Speaker of the Assembly of French Polynesia as well as a co-President of Tahoeraa Huiraatira, a pro-French political party.

Mr. Fritch became a member of the Assembly of French Polynesia in 1986.

He served as minister in the French Polynesian government several times from 1984 to 2011. From 1995 to 2005, and again from 2009 to 2011, he was vice-president of the government. From 2000 to 2008, he was mayor of Pirae, succeeding to his father in law Gaston Flosse, according to Mr. Terai.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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