President of the Tunisian Federation of Travel Agencies (FTAV) Jabeur Ben Attouche expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the official authorities and the media have handled the Amdoun accident.
In an interview with AfricanManager on Thursday, December 12, 2019, Ben Attouche said this “false diagnosis” has already had a huge and negative impact on the travel agency sector, noting that many domestic tourist trips to the north of the country have been cancelled.
The FTAV president said all the investigations that have been carried out have confirmed that the critical state of the bus and the place of the accident are essentially behind this tragedy and that travel agencies do not take responsibility for this horrible accident.
“Following the false accusations that have been leveled by several sides against travel agencies, thousands of trips have been cancelled, resulting in huge financial losses for agency owners in Tunisia,” he said.
He reaffirmed that “the future of domestic tourism is now threatened by false allegations. This type of tourism is the second source of life and employment for people living in rural areas. The travel agency that organized this tour is not part of the Federation of Travel Agencies (FTAV), and therefore works illegally.”
In this context, Ben Attouche called on the authorities in charge of the transport sector to put in place a new strategy to develop all roads that are in a catastrophic state in order to avoid the recurrence of such accidents.
He also stressed the importance of sending strong and reassuring messages to Tunisians so that they have confidence in travel agencies.
It should be recalled that the road between Amdoun and Ain Draham was the scene of a tragic accident in the Maghraoua area that left 29 people dead and many others wounded.
Towards renovation of the travel agency transport fleet
On another point, the President of the Tunisian Federation of Travel Agencies FTAV said a meeting between Minister of Tourism René Trabelsi and professionals in the sector took place recently to demand a series of urgent requests such as the facilitation of procedures for the renovation of the transport fleet.
He pointed out that the purchase of a single tourist bus will cost more than 600 thousand dinars, pointing out that professionals in the sector can no longer acquire this vehicle due to the deterioration of their financial situation.
Ben Attouche reported that more than 1,000 travel agencies that are located in Tunisia are facing many problems and that they suffer from a very difficult financial situation.
“Several have closed their doors. Indeed, in the city of Tozeur the number of agencies has dropped considerably from 90 to 40. To get out of the rut, it is time to launch a series of urgent reforms, namely the implementation of a tourism code, the revision of the law governing the tourism sector…”, he said.
The Asian market has huge potential
The FTAV boss also stated that Tunisian tourism has recovered and that Tunisia expects 9 million tourists by the end of this year. And to achieve this objective, he called for increased efforts to open up to other promising markets such as the Asian market.
“Attracting Asian tourists should be an absolute priority for tourism professionals, for several reasons, including that they are the most expensive tourists in the world.
We are aware of the importance of the Chinese tourism market, which is the world’s largest tourist emitting market… Tunisia welcomes 50,000 Japanese tourists annually, while Morocco, a competing country, attracts more than 500,000 tourists each year.
More should be done to ensure the mass arrival of Asian tourists, through the launch of a global strategy focused on many points, including diversification of the offer, promotion and marketing, governance and financial restructuring of the tourism sector,” concluded the head of the FTAV.