The tourist season in Tunisia will be “disastrous,” as a result of the 50% loss suffered by different indicators of the sector compared with 2010, tourist professionals said.
They underlined at a news conference held on Thursday in Tunis that the situation in the country (sit-ins, strikes), events in Libya, lack of visibility for the next period and precariousness of tourism in Tunisia are factors that caused “this critical situation” experienced by the sector.
Mr. Mohamed Belajouza, Chairman of the National Hotel Trade Federation (FTH) added that illegal migration to the Italian island of “Lampedusa” also led to the collapse of the Italian market which is among the most tourist- provider markets to Tunisia.
The major concern of FTH is preservation of jobs offered by the sector (two million direct and indirect jobs), including 500 thousand permanent jobs, he said. The federation asked for support of the concerned authorities to overcome this crisis.
Regarding the high season, he said ” we are not sure the situation will improve.” Mr. Taher Saihi, Chairman of the Tunisian Travel Agencies Federation (FTAV) said the decrease in bookings for the high season is between 50% to 60%, tourists having chosen such other destinations as Spain, Greece and Turkey.
The improvement of the situation depends on support from the State and taking urgent measures, he said, wondering about the fate of correspondences sent to the tourism ministry, which were examined at a cabinet meeting held last April 22 and on which a decree was established but not published at the Official Gazette. He said that travel agencies are unable to pay their employees and meet their commitments, some of them are even threatened of bankruptcy. The number of travel agencies in Tunisia is 700, providing 10 thousand direct and indirect jobs. Mr. Boubaker Bouzrara, representative of the regional hotel trade federation in Sousse “sounded the alarm” because of the difficult situation experienced by local hotels. Thus, out of the 104 hotels of the region, 30 shut down. He recommended involving professionals in decision- making. Tourism professionals expressed their will to make special offers to encourage domestic tourism which ranks third in the number of overnight stays (3 million) after France and Germany and before Italy and Great Britain.