THE PACIFIC BASIN
Growth and travel within and to the Pacific Basin area rose three-and-a-half times in the 1969-1979 decade, well ahead of the world average. The Boeing company forecasts that Trans-Pacific traffic will grow at an annual rate of 12 percent between 1980 and 1987. Intra-Orient traffic will increase, says Boeing, at 15 percent per annum.
A Pacific Area Travel Association study in 1980 showed Australia and Japan to hold the most appeal for potential travelers, followed by Hong Kong, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Mainland China. Some fifty different travel experiences have been defined in the Basin, from butterfly searching in Papua New Guinea, to bargain shopping in the Ginza of Tokyo. A variety of cultures can be observed first hand.1 New Zealand is decidedly traditional British in a setting of remarkable natural beauty. The South Pacific could absorb a lifetime of study in observing the hundreds of islands and their peoples. Most North Americans are only vaguely aware of and have little interest in the East Asian nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Korea. Much of the lack of interest stems from unfamiliarity with the region. Potential travelers to the Pacific Basin were asked which of a number of possible sources of information they would consider using in planning a trip to the Pacific. The reliable sources in their minds were travel agents, friends, acquaintances, or relatives who had visited the Pacific areas.
Travel to and within the Pacific area has the ring of romance. The very words South Pacific, Far East, Cathay invoke images of faraway places, mystery, and the unknown. And they have been far away for North Americans. In the days of steamship travel it took as long as twenty-three days to cross the Pacific. Even today with six hundred mph jet travel, the hours roll on when en route from the United States across the Pacific. The immensity of the Pacific is overwhelming, extending from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic regions, and from Western North America and Western South America to East Asia and Australia an area encompassing almost seventy million square miles.
Consider French Polynesia. It covers an area as big as Europe without Russia, about 1.5 million square miles. French Polynesia is only a small part of the South Pacific. Its seat of government is Tahiti, land of beaches, tropical breezes, plenty of rain, and mostly Polynesians.