“Tahiti!” Tahiti! » The exclamations are not the fruit of an enthusiastic campaign to promote French Polynesia, they come from the municipal opposition which gave voice to the mayor of the capital, Anne Hidalgo, during the Paris Council on Wednesday November 15. In question, his recent three-week trip to Tahiti, then to Raiatea, where his daughter lives.
Embarrassment of the team in communicating about a half-public, half-private trip in a difficult national context on the one hand, unleashing of criticism on the costly exoticism of the journey on the other: the affair calls up an old European cliché persistent, that of the vahiné and its blue lagoon, in which the French of the Pacific now regret being locked up. Faced with the tragedies of the world, “can we decently go and relax in the sun”attacked Alexis Brézet, from Figaroon Europe 1, Wednesday, when Geoffroy Boulard, mayor Les Républicains du 17e arrondissement, took out a bottle of Tahiti shower gel in the middle of the Paris Council.
“We make our countries landscapes, as Aimé Césaire said, evoking a journey to the end of the world when it is a journey to the end of Francecomments Jacques Martial, responsible for overseas affairs with Mme Hidalgo. This is internalized, unconscious, unbearable racism. »
The territory of 280,000 inhabitants is certainly splendid, and it lives mainly from tourism, which brought in 645 million euros in 2022, according to the Institute of Statistics of French Polynesia (ISPF). But in these archipelagos scattered over an area the size of Europe, 16,000 kilometers from Paris, isolation remains a daily challenge.
“Between myth and structural handicap, Tahiti is perceived as the trip of a lifetime”, noted the ISPF in its 2022 annual report. Travel is expensive between France and the Pacific, preventing many overseas travelers from traveling, as between the Polynesian islands themselves. The transport costs of the municipal delegation have been revealed – 40,955 euros for six people.
“A two-speed society”
In Polynesia, economic growth has made a remarkable rebound after Covid (3.4% in 2022, according to the IMF), the university is advancing at the forefront of ocean research, start-ups receive awards from the French Tech, the official label of the French authorities. But the country is subject to generalized inflation (+ 6.4% in 2022, a historic peak) with prices 39% higher than those in France. Its GDP per capita remains half that (18,000 euros), the youth employment rate very low (34%), social coverage far from that of the average French person, according to the Overseas Emission Institute .
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