Tunisia, which remains a popular tourist destination, occupying 29th spot on the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) list of the top 40 destinations worldwide, is launching development strategies to help the sector adapt to a rapidly changing global market, Oxford Business Group (OBG) said in an article published on December 14.
Facing fierce competition, the country must defend its competitive advantage in order to ensure the sector’s sustainability.
Addressing the strategic study on prospects for growth in the tourism sector by 2016, OBG underlines that the Tunisian tourism sector is being challenged by recent trends, which include the changing profile of consumers (who are becoming on average older), advances in technology such as online booking, and the emergence of new types of accommodation such as boutique hotels.
Fields that need particular attention from the government and innovation, advertising, promotion and marketing, legislative framework and a re-financing of the industry, said Roland Berger International, a German Audit Company.
According to the results of the study, Tunisia should improve the range and quality of tourism services, stimulate demand and step up competitiveness, added Oxford Business Group.
Roland Berger International also recommended establishing common structures for advertising campaigns which last year cost Tunisia 27 million Euros, compared with 49 million Euros for Morocco and 82 million Euros for Turkey.
The Government has started to upgrade infrastructure and improve vocational training centers. In addition, new standards have been adopted. In 2010, after 6439 controls were carried out, 156 hotels were downgraded and 16 obtained an additional star. Hotel training centers have been renovated. In addition, the teaching program at such schools will anticipate changes in the sector; their management, meanwhile, will be left increasingly to tourism professionals.
According to Tourism Minister Tlatli, Tunisia plans to become « a destination that can provide an upscale product, » catering to « international visitors who wish to enjoy a cultural offer that cannot easily be found at the same level at competing destinations.
The strategic study also focuses on the need for better marketing. To that effect, Mr. Tlatli highlights the need for « regional promotion » and “a better understanding of markets, so as to develop a suitable product for each market.” The government has worked on developing cultural, environmental, wellness and sports tourism, as these can cope with the strong seasonality of Tunisian tourism, concentrated between May and October. Efforts have also been undertaken by the government to boost tourism to the Saharan region with the opening of two direct flights from Tozeur, in the south-west of the country, to Milan and Madrid.
Meanwhile, the Tunisian National Tourism Office (ONTT) will undergo a major restructuring. One part of the ONTT will deal with promotion and tourism marketing while the other will specialize in vocational training in tourism.
The tourism ministry has predicted that these and other reforms will help the country welcome 10m tourists per year by 2015, last year there were over 7m arrivals. Though the target is ambitious if Tunisia can accentuate its mix of North African charm and European sophistication, it stands a good chance of meeting it.