The Revolution will accelerate the transition of tourism in Tunisiar, which consumes more wealth than it creates, we must reverse the trend, clean up the sector. To save the season, we are counting on the French tour operators who have pledged to increase efforts to attract tourists, Mehdi Haouas, Minister of Trade and Tourism said, in particular, in an interview with African Manager:
What steps are taken to save the spring season?
Tunisian tourism is suffering for 10 years, and it was not the latest events that are the cause of its difficulties. It is a sector which loses much more wealth than it produces. Our fundamental objective is to reverse the trend and revive the sector.
It should be noted that the sector has suffered severely, and the results of January confirmed this through a reduction of around 47% From France. Flights booking for the month of March also showed a sluggish trend with a filling rate not exceeding 50% at the charter chain.
Already, we’re thinking about levers capable of promoting the tourism sector and actions to be undertaken after the end of the curfew, and we do not want to sell out our prices. Tunisia has changed and working methods must change.
We are called to show creativeness and more reactivity, develop new ideas to boost sales via Internet and also create cultural events and invite opinion leaders.
Was the hotel infrastructure damaged because of the Revolution?
Throughout the uprising in Tunisia, no hotel unit has been affected and no tourist has been attacked by revolted people. Tunisians have kept their warm and generous nature even in turmoil.
To end the closure of hotels, the pace of sales should be accelerated, and we need to revive the destination by the end of the week. It is important to convince tourists to return and boast the proximity and accessibility of the destination …
I am convinced that all hotels will resume their activities in the coming months. I have been working hard to monitor and improve hotel services from the time I came to Tunisia. As a start we are creating a corporate website of tourism that will highlight new images of Tunisia, such as those in rural Tunisia … that site should be online in mid-March, in six languages. In addition to this website, the strategy is to establish a platform of electronic commerce involving all hotels and tour operators and will be ready by the end of March.
What is the role of tour operators, especially during this crucial period?
Collaboration with tour operators involves regaining the confidence of many tourists. Lifting of the curfew will be, in this regard, a milestone for the resumption of tourism activities. For this purpose, twelve TO (presidents and directors) who are the most important French tour operators, were on two-day visit Tunisia, they pledged to support the local tourist professionals to save the season.
They also have a major role. This includes examining a restructuring of the Tunisian tourism. In France, travel agents are waiting to be prescribers of Tunisia. We must take advantage of this news so that our customers find their way to Tunisia.
It is noteworthy that Transavia and Air France have continued to schedule their flights without interruption throughout the events that shook Tunisia. Tunisian airlines were also present and quite responsive on the French market, especially since a score of French cities are served from and to Tunisia.
The challenge is to disseminate the new image of the Tunisian people who made their revolution and deserves that people travel to know very little about them. A working group comprising men of culture and arts and filmmakers, has been set up for this purpose.
The aim is to create a new image that needs to be disseminated without spoiling the Revolution.