“The French market: Which strategy for recovery?” Was the theme discussed on Thursday, September 14 in a Tunis hotel.
The meeting, organized at the initiative of the Tourism Observatory, gave way to different views, but experts agreed that despite the crisis and the resulting difficulties and failures, a recovery was initiated since 2016 and has been confirmed during this year. The French market was the first tourist market for Tunisia.
Afif Kchouk, President of the Observatory of Tourism, stressed the importance of this event which comes at a very timely moment: “We are in a year in which the French market has increased by 50% the past year … We are on the eve of the visit of several prominent personalities, including that of Emmanuel Macron announced for next October, “he pointed out.
He also said that France is the traditional market par excellence considering the cultural, civilizational and historical relations that exist between the two countries.
As a result, France ranks at the top of the European source markets of tourists to Tunisia: “despite the crisis; it remains the first tourist market for Tunisia,” he said.
The president of the tourism observatory did not however conceal the existence of some disappointments relating to this sector, considering that it is time to prepare a clear vision on this traditional market which is not without importance for Tunisia.
He, therefore, called for a strategy to be followed to ensure that this tourist flow to Tunisia continues to increase, in line with Tunisia’s efforts to improve the security situation and the promotional efforts provided by the parties concerned.
Sharing the same point of view, Néji Ben Othmane, CEO of Tunisia’s National Tourist Office (ONTT), said that for many cultural, civilizational and historical reasons, the French market remains one of Tunisia’s priorities as the first investor in our hotel infrastructure.
Ben Othmane stressed the importance of adopting new approaches to meet the challenges and overcome the crisis facing the sector: “Tunisia, like France, was hit by terrorism, hence the need to show solidarity between the two countries “, explained the DG of the ONTT, before reaffirming the Ministry’s readiness to support all the promotional initiatives on the Tunisian destination.
Talking about figures, he said that tourism activity has seen a sustained growth of 16% compared to the same period last year, from January to September 2017.
The number of tourists welcomed in Tunisia has increased by 23% and the forecasts for the back season are also expected to be good, according to him.
Another figure not less important than the previous ones: The projections count on 6.6 million tourists by the end of this year: “All this requires however meeting several conditions, mainly political and social stability, the lifting of travel restrictions by some foreign countries and the implementation of a strategy of promotion and marketing,” he said.
In the same vein, an expert in the sector said that the crisis in Tunisia’s tourism sector had a negative and direct impact on employment and economic development, pointing out that the recovery in the sector since 2017 requires bold measures, mainly the lifting of travel restrictions by certain foreign countries.
As for the forecasts, he indicated that a wind of optimism seems to blow on Tunisia and that 500 thousand French tourists are expected in 2017. “Tunisia has to date hosted up to 400 thousand French tourists, “he added, stressing” the importance of the efforts made by Tunisia to reassure tourists and tour operators “.
For 2020, he said that the forecast is 10 million tourists.
He also pointed out that the tourism sector is facing a number of problems due to a structural problem, citing the quality of products supplied and the lack of animation, cultural activities and strategies, despite efforts made by the administration in this area.
He also indicated that Tunisia suffers from a poor image, stressing the need to build a new image enhancing Tunisia. “The revival has to be prepared and cannot be decreed,” he argued, before calling for the diversification of the offer and the quality of products offered as decisive factors for recovery.
For his part, Khaled Fakhfakh, president of the Hotels Federation said today the French market operates differently from those of European countries, stressing the importance of opening the sky.
“Such measures will help Tunisair make record performance. We have been in crisis for seven years … Our parents’ recipes do not work anymore, we have to think differently,” he concluded.