Tunisian tourism is still struggling to recover its pre-revolutions performance. It has nevertheless recorded an increase in terms of entries and revenue during the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.
According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, 4.905,079 million tourists visited Tunisia from January to September 2013, up 4.9 % compared to the same period of 2012, but still 10.4% below the levels of 2010, the year shortly preceding the Revolution (December 17, 2010 / January 14, 2011).
Europeans and North Africans continue to be the main customers of the Tunisian tourism, virtually sharing the market up to 49.6% for the former and 48.3% for the latter.
The French, first visitors to the country, continue to shun the Tunisian tourism with 638,659 entries during the first 9 months of 2013, down 22.8 % compared to the same period in 2012 and 43.7% compared with 2010 .
An upswing was however recorded in other European nationals like the British, Russian, Italian and German, with respective rises of 27.6 %, 11.5 %, 6.1% and 3.7% versus 2012.
The Czech market, too, posted a growth with a 59.6% increase in entries compared with 2012.
Regarding the Maghreb, Libyans are still in the lead with 1.456,681 million entries in the first three quarters of 2013, up 19% compared to the same period last year and 21% compared to 2010.
They are followed by Algerians whose entries have reached 653,032, up 6.6% compared to last year.
Regarding tourism receipts from January to September 20, 2013, they reached according to preliminary figures from the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), 2,336.6 million dinars, up 2.7 % compared to the same period last year. They remain, however, 6.7% below those recorded in the same period in 2010.
Swiss tourists dragging their feet
Only 41,518 Swiss tourists and vacationers came in Tunisia during the period from January to September 2013, down 8.8 % compared to the same period of 2012 and 41.1% in comparison with 2010, noted Ridha Dkhili, officer in charge of German-speaking markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) at the National Office of Tunisian tourism (ONTT).
Speaking Thursday at a seminar organized by the Tourism-info observatory on the theme “for the revival of the Swiss market,” he pointed out that the decline in the number of Swiss tourists is not unusual. “This downward trend began in 2000, the year in which the entries of Swiss tourists reached 120 thousands before rising to 105,728 entries in 2008,” the official said.
According to him, Tunisia is facing competition on the Swiss market from Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Croatia.
Professionals, who gathered at the meeting, were unanimous in noting that after the Revolution of December 17, 2010 – January 14, 2011, the decline in tourist arrivals from Switzerland has continued because of the climate of instability and also due to environmental pollution.
ONTT predicts that by the end of 2013, Tunisia will host approximately 56,300 Swiss tourists, with a decline of 5.5% compared to 2012. They recalled that recommendations for increased vigilance and the “advice posted on the website of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs concerning the existence of risk of terrorist attacks have deterred tourists from coming to Tunisia.”
To revive the Swiss market, the Swiss Ambassador in Tunis, Pierre Combernous, who was present at the meeting, recommended Tunisian tourism community to ensure better value for money and high value-added for tourist products.
He also stressed the need to further diversify the tourism offer by creating other forms of accommodation, “because Swiss holidays are mainly seaside, active and cultural.”
He also emphasized the need to promote Saharan tourism and develop “a reasonably priced offer by using clean energy.”