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When the coronavirus undermines an already very fragile tourism

Tourism could only be the first sector to suffer from the coronavirus crisis in Tunisia. Despite the resilience it has shown on many occasions, the sector is facing an unprecedented situation, where the crisis of the coronavirus is dealing a death blow to a plethora of businesses already weakened since 2011.

Tourism receipts fell by 55% during the first four months of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, according to indicators published by the Central Bank of Tunisia.

As of April 30, 2021, tourism revenues have declined by 536.3 million dinars, compared to the same period of 2020, to 439.2 MD.

The government has decided measures for the sector’s professionals, to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tourism Department is implementing a strategy to promote the destination Tunisia for the year 2021, according to the Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Habib Ammar.

He said the national strategy will provide a clear vision to the various tour operators and tourists wishing to come to Tunisia.

Tunisia’s National Tourist Office announced that a first contingent of 300 Russian tourists had arrived in Tunisia since Thursday aboard two charter flights, followed Friday of Belarusian tourists and Saturday of Czech tourists: a first since last summer.

The few hundred tourists from Eastern Europe lift the spirit of Tunisians but will surely not boost the hotels. “We are delighted but they represent only a fraction of the tourists who usually come to the country,” said expert Sami Aouadi, quoted by TV5 Monde. “But hey, it’s better than nothing for the hotels.

“The arrival of these tourists highlights the grip under which the government finds itself as the epidemic explodes again in Tunisia. “Either they open the borders and the Tunisians are unhappy,” says another specialist, quoted by the same media. “Or they close and tourists do not return,” he concludes.

UNWTO: 320 billion dollars of losses due to the coronavirus

According to the barometer published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the COVID-19 pandemic has caused losses of 320 billion dollars (273 billion euros) for global tourism from January to May over one year.

“This is more than triple the losses recorded … by international tourism during the global economic crisis of 2009,” said the Madrid-based United Nations organization.

From January to May, the number of international tourists fell by 56% compared to the same period in 2019, which represents 300 million fewer visitors. Despite the slow recovery of tourism, especially in the northern hemisphere, “the confidence index established by UNWTO shows historical lows,” it is noted.

Among the main risks facing the sector, the UNWTO cites “the resurgence of the virus and the risk of new confinements” as well as the situation of China and the United States, “at a standstill”, while these countries are usually major providers of tourists.

In early May, the UNWTO predicted a 60 to 80% drop in the number of international tourists for the year 2020, with losses that could reach a total of 910 to 1,200 billion dollars (776 to 1,023 billion euros).

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