North Africa Bargains Manage to Attract Wary Tourists

Tunisia is channelling its efforts on boosting tourism, the country’s second biggest employing sector, in an attempt to to restore stability and overcome the effects of recent political turmoil that led to the overthrow of its former ruler. This proves to be a particularly difficult task, as tourist arrivals from Europe have decreased by 50%.

 

Sidi Bou Said village Tunisia

Sidi Bou Said village Tunisia

Photo source

“Tunisians feel very let down because they were the first ones to start the uprising, to fight for democracy, and now they are forgotten,” said tour group manager Can Deniz, strolling through the winding streets of Sidi Bou Said village.

Sidi Bou Said used to be an extremely popular tourist destination due to its stunning views of The Bay of Tunis, coupled with its lively markets and white and blue houses. Yet its exotic beauty now only appeals to few foreign tourists, the most recent group of visitors having been sponsored by the Tunisian tourism board in an attempt to prove the country’s claim of safety and stability.

The hit taken by local tourism has been quite severe, as this industry segment alone contributes 6-7 percent to the gross domestic product of Tunisia, a country where 14% of the population is unemployed.

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While the number of foreign visitors has been drastically cut down, there are still many that still visit the North African Country. 252,000 tourist arrivals have been recorded in March, despite the military presence and remaining curfews, taxi strikes and the war going on at the Libyan border.

“People are being drawn by price rather than any real interest in the country,” Deniz added.

As low prices tend to overcome fear and still draw tourists to North Africa, a region that held the center stage of political news this spring due to the many uprisings and power shits, Tunis made a desperate attempt to draw foreign visitors by cuttin 20 to 30% of accommodation prices.

Egypt, another North African country most famous this year for the protests that ended in overthrowing president Mubarak after a reign of decades, has been dealing with a similar situation. After the violent events on the streets of Cairo, tourists stopped coming and many international travel groups pulled out of Egypt. Yet tour operators believe that the Egyptian tourism will recover much faster than the Tunisian industry, as the country is a traditionally more popular holiday destination. Moreover, tourists coming to Cairo from Sharm El-Sheikh are largely indifferent to the revolution, many of them having booked their trips long before the unrest started.





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