Culture

High Hopes For Tourism Sector In Tunisia Despite Terrorism Fears

North Africa

Despite fear of terrorist attacks, the tourism sector in Tunisia is on the rise. Historically, instances of terrorism in the country have always coincided with drops in income coming from tourism.

Strengthened security in Tunisia has contributed to the growth of Tunisia’s tourism sector in recent months, according to Tunisian observers and government officials. While the terrorist attacks that have rocked the country since 2011 have affected the country’s tourism industry, there are signs that the tourism sector is flourishing once again, with people flocking to the country from around the world.

“[Polish and Belgian citizens] were not allowed to travel to Tunisia, but after security began to stabilise, they significantly returned,” said Salim Mhaya, a hotel manager in Djerba.

According to statistics released by the Tunisian Government, the number of overnight stays in the country increased by 45% over the last quarter. Furthermore, the number of tourism hotel bookings have risen by 60% after their reduction significantly over the past few years.

This is interpreted by many people as a promising indicator that the stability that Tunisia is experiencing will encourage this industry to grow.

“If we continue at the same pace, all these indicators predict an excellent tourism year,” said Hisham al-Mahwashi, the Director of Tourism in the city of Djerba. “I believe that the political process is a picture that can be promoted abroad and can contribute to the development of Tunisia’s image abroad as a secure, democratic, and peaceful country.”

Historically, the tourism industry in Tunisia has contributed to 7% of the country’s GDP. Now, travel agencies, hotel managers, and craftsmen say that the government must encourage further development of this sector to bring in more money to the country.

“The price of the night spent in Tunisia is 59 Euros, which is a small number compared to Morocco where the price of spending the night is 283 Euros,” said Hamda Abd al-Mawla, the Director of the Tunisian Travel and Tourism Federation. “We need a strategy that will attract the tourist to increase his expenses.”

While the country still faces the issue of what to do with potential returning ISIS militants, the Tunisian Government announced a plan to deal with the issue.

With the decrease of these attacks, and plans to rehabilitate returning fighters, many hope that Tunisia’s security will improve and that its tourism industry will begin to flourish.