A British family were detained and deported from Tahiti despite being given the green light to travel in mix-up over the travel ban in France.
Brit holidaymakers Steve Goode, 31, and his partner Charlotte, 29, said their dream holiday with their six-month-old daughter ended up being a nightmare when they were deported upon arriving in Tahiti.
They were told by officials that Brit travellers were not welcome in French colonies following the travel ban in France which came into place on December 16.
Speaking to the MailOnline, Mr Goode said he thinks his family was caught up in politics between France and the UK as relationships have been deteriorating recently.
Mr Goode said: “It was a complete and utter surprise when we landed.”
“We made all reasonable steps. We got an ETIS (Visa) from the French, we got a negative PCR Covid-19 test, we got all of the necessary documents, we were approved to travel, the airline boarded us.”
“It’s the French-English situation – the French and British argument. We got stuck in the middle of this whole political (travel) ban that they’ve done.”
After going through passport control, the family were placed in a small room with no air conditioning for nearly six hours and apparently refused food, despite having a small child with them.
“They were just horrendous,” he said. “Awful. Especially as we’ve got a child as well, we thought there would be some form of concession.”
“We asked for food, they said no. A couple of other British nationals were with us and they asked as well – ‘no.’ Then we asked for water and we got given this tiny cup with dirt at the bottom of it. It was tragic.”
Following a long journey, the family had planned to stay in French Polynesia until January 12, on a holiday that had cost them £15,000 and had already been postponed twice.
However, when they landed in Tahiti, they were detained and told they would immediately be deported.
“It wasn’t a case of ‘We’ve detained you because you’re considered a public health risk,’” Mr Goode said.
“It was this constant line that British travellers are not welcome in France. ‘You’re not welcome, you’re not welcome.’ I don’t know whether that was the language barrier, but it was just constant ‘You’re not welcome.’”
During their long wait in customs, the couple’s daughter began to have sickness and diarrhoea. Mr Goode said a doctor had been arranged through the UK Foreign, who then told the French officials that the child should not fly under any circumstances.
The family of three were then taken to a hotel under police guard, with a video taken by Mr Goode showing the family in a golf-cart type police vehicle with caged windows, driving through a resort on the island.
The family were held in hotel quarantine and would have been jailed if they left their room.
“They took us to a quarantine hotel with the others – in a police car, with police guard – to a room. They asked us to sign a 10 page document all in French that they refused to translate into English. It was all very dictatorial,” he told MailOnline.
“What we were most surprised at were the conditions that we were held. We weren’t allowed to leave the room, there were police guards walking up and down the street.”
“Police were banging on the door a 1am to check we were there. You really had to keep your cool – there were some quite near-the-mark moments when I felt really angry about it.”
Mr Goode said there were other Brits in the same situation, as well as two Finnish nationals who, according to Mr Goode, were treated better by the officials than British nationals were.
“There was a marked difference in the way we were treated to the people from Finland. It felt that they were just so anti-us. It was 100 per cent to do with the fact that we were Brits,” he said.
“If there were other nationals there that had travelled through the UK and there were no British nationals, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had just said to them – do 10 days [in quarantine] and then stay.”
Although Tahitian officials initially offered the family to stay on hotel grounds for 10 days in isolation, this offer was then recalled from Tahitian officials and officials in Tahiti were told to deport them straight away.
“We spoke to a couple of nice immigration officers – and they said, being honest with you, it’s because Britain and France’s relationship is not good,” Mr Goode said.
“The high commissioner kept saying – no – send them home.”
Even with the travel restrictions in France, Mr Goode said he was assured by Air Tahiti that they could still go ahead with their dream holiday.
“The fact that the airline boarded us, US border control let us go, the hotel were there waiting for us, that gives you an indication that it wasn’t just us. Everybody was surprised by this sudden rule.”
“The next day – the same thing happened. More people arrived. It was a couple with two young children from the UK. They arrived, and they weren’t even allowed to leave the airport – they weren’t even allowed to brush their teeth or go and wash,” he said.
Mr Goode said that Air Tahiti has “given me a preliminary response saying that it’s not down to them to approve passengers for flights,” adding that the airline said it was his responsibility to know the restrictions.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.