“The tourism sector, deeply affected by events that had taken place in the country since the Revolution of January 14, saw its earnings fall 33% in 2011, reaching 3,364 million Tunisian dinars (MTD), Director General of the Tunisian National Tourism Board (ONTT) Habib Ammar told TAP.
Last year, “the number of tourist bed-nights was down 40.3% to 21.2 million and arrivals fell by 30.7%, to reach 4.7 million tourists.”
Regarding employment, the ONTT official said the tourism crisis led to the closing of 17 hotels and the loss of nearly 3,000 direct jobs, in addition to the “failure to create” some 20 thousand seasonal jobs.
The negative effects of tourism also hit the sectors of air transport, travel agencies, industry, handicrafts… The decline recorded by the tourism sector, which still persists early 2012, is the result of political and social instability and the phenomenon of insecurity that had prevailed in the country for months, said Mr. Ammar.
“To this are added the war in Libya and the events in Egypt which resulted in the emergence of a bad reputation for the whole region,” he specified.
To remedy this situation, the Department has set up a promotional strategy designed to reassure all stakeholders in this field, particularly tour operators on “the return to normal in Tunisia,” with the improvement of political and social stability and the reinforcement of security nationwide, he said.
“Hence, 70 tour operators from the five continents were invited to Gammarth (northern suburb of Tunis) to discuss tourist flows to Tunisia as part of a workshop held last February 3 by the Tourism Ministry.”
He also said that the Department of Tourism will launch shortly advertising campaigns in different markets whether traditional or potential of Tunisia.
Tunisia hosts annually an average of 2 million Libyan tourists, 1.5 million French, 1 million Algerian and nearly 500 thousand German.
Tourism, which accounts for 7% of the GDP and provides nearly 400 direct jobs, is a real driving force of the economy with ripple effects on all business sectors,” reminded Mr. Ammar.