Tunisian tourism, which has been more and harder hit than other sectors, was the first to pass through the hazards of the coronavirus.
Despite the resilience it has shown repeatedly, the sector is facing an unprecedented situation, where the COVID-19 crisis is dealing a very hard blow to a plethora of companies, weakened also since 2011.
Tourism revenues, calculated up to February 10, 2021, have fallen by 56.8% compared to the same period last year. They did not exceed 200 million dinars (MD), according to daily monetary and financial indicators published on Wednesday by the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT).
As for cumulative external debt servicing, they increased by 18.5%, at the same date, to 865 MD. Similarly, cumulative labor income in cash has slightly risen by 7% to 661 MD.
The BCT also pointed out that net foreign exchange reserves amounted to 22.1 billion dinars, as of February 17, representing 156 days of imports (compared to 19.6 billion dinars, or 113 days of imports, during the same period in 2020). The overall volume of bank refinancing amounted to 8.6 billion dinars, down 20% compared to the same period in 2020.
As a reminder, the BCT had stressed in a note published Wednesday that the liquidity needs of banks have recovered in December 2020 (after having seen a gradual downward trend since mid-2019), to reach 9.8 billion dinars, on average, from 9.4 billion the previous month.
What are the new measures to get out of the rut?
The new measures, decided by the government in the face of the latest developments in the sanitary and epidemiological situation, at national, regional and global levels, do not concern tourist charter flights from countries classified in the orange zone, since they comply with the previously announced health protocol, said the Ministry of Tourism.
These measures also do not apply to travelers on scheduled flights from countries classified in the orange zone, organized as part of package tours and “Inclusive Tour”.
Because, these passengers must obey the health protocol specific to the tourism sector in hotels, adopted by the Ministry of Health and also by the occupational medicine of the Ministry of Social Affairs (…).
Convinced that the local market is a market in its own right, the Ministry of Tourism is committed to developing domestic tourism in Tunisia. Moreover, according to the department, this sector, which has a strong contribution, in the order of more than 50% of overnight stays in countries with great experience such as France and Spain, does not exceed 10% in Tunisia in terms of revenue and overnight stays.
Despite some difficulties related to both the economic and political context, this sector remains one of the most promising in the country, alongside industry and agriculture. It provides both permanent and seasonal jobs. It also contributes to the dynamism of other economic sectors, such as transport, handicrafts, trade, catering, services…
The ball is therefore in the court of Tunisians who will have to learn how to book in advance to benefit from the advantages offered by hotels and take advantage of the festive periods.