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Tunisia: The minister pilgrim’s staff makes blur fade away

Does the vagueness that so far marred the prospects of the Tunisian tourism  finally fade away? More evidence would tend to confirm this new trend. Some European markets are disclosing the consuming trends amid the international crisis. According to some French media, for example, «the French will adjust their budgets for this summer holidays so as not to go too far, taking few days under the sun.” The newspaper “La Dépêche” reports that ” Opodo.fr Expedia.fr online travel agencies pointed out  that Mediterranean destinations such as Portugal, Tunisia and Italy, will be the favourite ones of  French tourists . As for  long-haul destinations, only the U.S. is emerging from the mess ” The Moroccan business daily, L’Economiste reports a study by the Department of Tourism of Morocco on  price positioning that  shows that Morocco is more expensive, compared to Tunisia, Egypt or Turkey.

The pilgrim’s staff of the Minister.

Tourism is the third “Achilles heel” of the Tunisian economy amid the international economic crisis. Far from resting on its laurels , Tunisia took the bull by the horns and had already got proactive since the end of the last season. A strategy of door-to-door contacts was developed. Foremost, the Minister Khalil LAJIMI has taken ,on presidential instructions, the pilgrim’s staff and started touring the most important markets for Tunisian tourism .

Intensive contacts were held with French, Italian, Spanish and German TO representing some 4 million tourists per year, in addition to conventional meetings involving the staff of the Tunisian Tourism Office’s representations abroad.
 The German market which is regarded as a weak point is strongly targeted. Together with some 150 Tunisian tourism professionals, Khalil LAJIMI recently attended  Berlin ITTB , one of the most important European fair dedicated to tourism. After Milan for the Italian market and before heading to Paris on the sidelines of MAP , the minister went to “take the pulse of the German market”, as he said in  the program “Thursdays economy “of RTCI (French-language channel of the Tunisian Radio).

The German market had exceeded in 1999, the million of tourists, before dropping to less than 500 000, following the sorrowful events of Djerba. 2008 had been the year of the recovery and the number of German tourists  finally exceeded this 500 000 threshold, up 1.5%.

Despite the crisis which remains uneven across the European markets, door-to-door contacts, began to bear fruit and fog blur finally begins to be lifted.

Reasonable optimism

“Meetings with TO make professionals reasonably optimistic, despite the recession,” said the minister LAJIMI to RTCI. The German, Italian and French markets which account for 2.5 million tourists, take the road, and we may be reasonably optimistic. Such a “face-to-face” strategy  is based on an important  promotional budget, even if it is almost negligible compared to other countries’ and compared  to promotion costs. Spending more (in terms of receipts per arrival, it stands at 1000 DT per visitor), the German market will be better dealt with. As part of the10 MDT supplementary budget agreed by the Tunisian  Head of  State, “a fairly consistent  extension will be allocated to the German market,” says Khalil LAJIMI.
Blur begins to dissipate and the Tunisian market is getting back more visibility, even if there are 3 markets still causing some concerns. Russian, Spanish and British markets are facing deeper crisis. For Moscow, a team from ONTT will meet this week the main TO and professionals.  Another team will travel to Spain together with a Tunisair delegation.

As some professionals argue that the booking would be made to the national carrier Tunisair and not to hoteliers for the summer season, attention should be paid to prices. The Moroccan business daily L’Economiste  reported in a study on  prices  during the winter season 2008/2009 on the French market (Fram, Nouvelles Frontieres, Marmara and Thomas Cook and 3 online agencies Opodo, Lastminute and Expedia), that Morocco is more expensive, compared to Tunisia, Egypt or Turkey. A low cost war is due to break out and TO will be the only beneficiaries.


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