Facing the increasingly alarming situation experienced by the tourism sector in Tunisia, Dr. Mohamed Tellili, founder of a training facility in spas, describes to us the state of the industry by recommending new perennial measures to deal with it.
Nine months after the outbreak of the Revolution, the tourism sector is going through one of the most difficult period where all indicators are red. How do you assess the current situation?
The crisis in tourism sector does not date from January 14. This date is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In my opinion, this is an opportunity to reveal the shortcomings of this area. Let’s talk few of these failures that are very simple with a clear diagnosis. We can say that we have never opted for quality, we talk about quality but we never tried to enforce its standards. What do tourists look for? They, quite simply, seek comfort, hygiene, quality service and a correct animation.
Another failure concerns, obviously, hotels, the majority of which consists of family businesses that do not spend an adequate budget for their human resources.
In addition, price slashing remains a major handicap for the development of tourism. It’s an approach that simply opts for the low end.
Communication is still a big gap in the sector. What should be done then?
We must be demanding as far as specifications are concerned, in terms of the presence of competent, qualified and experienced labor, a rigorous hygiene to attract tourists and try
second, to diversify the tourism product knowing that Tunisia has all the ingredients but with bad cooks.
What are your recommendations to address this situation?
I am for encouraging young promoters who have strong will and professionalism but who are eaten by the giants. That is why I insist on product diversification while enabling young people to specialize in this area. We can succeed only through close collaboration among different structures to better organize the sector. This also requires the vigilance of professionals.
But this requires a revision of tourism training. What do you think?
Absolutely, skilled and well trained people are needed. For this reason it is necessary to update tourism training to help it meet the requirements of the sector. We have many unemployed while there is a huge lack of skills in hotels.
So, there is a great responsibility for the next government?
Exactly. You should know that tourism is able to absorb all skills without exception.
And to solve the unemployment problem, it is important to address tourism. It’s time to give more opportunity for skills since the country has qualified human resources, but is still in the shadow. I take this opportunity to say that experts are not the owners of big chains that have unfortunately shown their shortcomings and failures and seek their own profit and interest. This is why it is necessary to consult independent experts who have no interest in this area while avoiding the presence of both Tunisian and foreign intruders who massacred our tourism.
So you’re optimistic about the future of Tunisian tourism?
Of course, especially with the presence of investors who are willing to invest in luxury projects able to bring back customers. Investors who are abandoning Tunisia need to be encouraged not to do so through the facilitation of administrative procedures and legal implementation of encouraging measures.
But how convincing this class to settle in Tunisia?
They must present credible, serious and quality projects. Currently, there is a flight of investors who are now investing elsewhere in the world. However, they are somewhat right. Despite all their patriotism, they are currently investing elsewhere because they are more serious.
Now we have to enjoy what we had. We now have democracy and freedom. We have also the revolution, an asset for new Tunisia.
We must opt for the reliability, quality and honesty. In fact, if Tunisians miss this opportunity in terms of tourism, the sector will lose much, since it is the best situation to fill the gaps.
Can we say that the process of recovery will depend on the elections?
We should not wait for the elections. In the acquisition of democracy, we have just a premature baby and which is in the incubator. We must take care as it is fragile. It must be given time and needed nursing to become strong and viable. Democracy does not happen overnight. It takes generations of activists to build it.
Tourism is a vital sector of economic activity. What are politicians waiting for to revolutionize it? There are some pseudo-politicians who take Tunisians as mentally retarded with their promises for everyday life.
However, with a new government, there will be another truth. And there, it is important to clean the administration in the tourism industry that keeps yet old reflexes, since our tourism goes hand in hand with the juncture. Hence, the importance of a total improvement by imposing to all stakeholders to comply with the specifications and quality standards.
We must trust the Tunisian skills, especially young people to rebuild our tourism