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Tunisia / Tourism: recovery is expected in March

Tunisian Minister of Trade and Tourism, Mehdi Haouas held, on Wednesday in Tunis, a press conference in which he discussed the issue of lifting of the curfew, which is essential for the re-opening of the Tunisia destination and the improvement of the tourism business.

He said the sector, which accounts for 6.5% of the GNP, collapsed during the Revolution while Tunisia has managed to attract tourists for years by focusing on its image as cheap destination.

He recalled that the tourism sector, which employs over 400,000 people, attracts large flows of foreign currency to the country. However, given the strong competitiveness, Tunisia should endeavor to maintain its advantage over its competitors to ensure the viability of the sector.

The minister added that Tunisia must become a destination capable of providing upscale services, consumed by visitors who seek cultural opportunities that are rarely found in competing destinations.

Regaining confidence of tourists

Recovery is expected for the month of March and the point is to regain the confidence of other source markets and rehabilitate the tourism administration, tour operators argued, calling for the implementation of promotional fares at the level of airlines.

Commenting on the development of tourism in Tunisia, the Minister noted that the market had started to decline after the Djerba attack in April 2002 and was unable to recover its share of this market ever since as a result of the lack of communication means, he said.

In addition, since the Revolution, tourism was severely affected by recent events in the country, half of the hotels are unoccupied and the other half is closed.

The new strategy also involves highlighting the archaeological sites, stepping up cultural activities, and reassuring tourists about the regular supply of hotels in consumer products.

Curfew to be lifted in a few days

The Minister of Trade and Tourism wants yet to be more reassuring. While reporting a 40% fall in last month’s figures (entries and revenues) compared to January 2010, he stressed the need to reassure tour operators on the country’s state of security and initiate a promotion campaign. The Interim Government plans to lift the curfew this week, he said.

As for Antoine Cachin, President of tour operator “Fram,” he said that lifting the curfew will be a very important step to reassure tourists and encourage them to return especially as spring is approaching.

He also said that “tour operators are fully prepared to support the revival of tourism in Tunisia, which is a crucial stimulus to the economy, as the tourism sector covers 60% of the deficit and the trade balance represents 6.5% of the GDP.

The tour operators present recalled that their mission was part of the need to promote the Tunisian tourist product and urged tourists to return without any fear as the country is now secure.

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