Tourism revenues down 45% in Tunisia

16 de junho de 2016

The sector generated USD 256 million in the country from January to May. The number of visitors declined 24% in comparison to the same period of 2015.

Tunis – Tunisia’s tourism sector is struggling to recover after the terrorist attacks in the country last year. Tourism revenues are down 44.6% from January to May 2016 in comparison to the same period of 2015, totaling TND 556.2 million (USD 256.2 million), according to data released by the Ministry of Tourism.

The number of non-resident visitors in the country totaled 1.19 million from January to May, a decline of 24.2% over the same period of last year, with only 301,300 of those coming from Europe, a decline of 47.8% in the same comparison.

To Houssem Ben Azouz, president of the Inter-Professional Federation of Tourism (FIT, in the French acronym), the European markets remain down and struggling, with the exception of Easter Europe, especially Ukraine and Russia.

The Russian market, a source of hope for the summer season (Northern Hemisphere), grew 649% from January to May 2015 to the same period this year, contributing with 74,415 tourists. Russia is in second place among European markets, trailing only France, which sent 115,752 tourists to Tunisia as the top source, a decline of 36.4% in the same comparison.

“Even with this particular market, the Russian federal tourism agency issued a warning on the risks of attacks in Tunisia, which caused cancellations and a decline in reservations for August and September”, said Ben Azouz.

Even so, this market is one of significant potential to Tunisia, estimated to generate between 500,000 to 1 million tourists per year, said FIT’s president.

The minister of Tourism, Selma Elloumi, stated that several measures were taken to preserve the Russian market, such as the enhancing air transport, offers of “adequate” hotel rates and concerns with security. Around 2 million euros were invested in marketing campaigns of Tunisia in Russia.

Tourists from other European nationalities also declined. Tunisia welcomed 34,623 Germans in the first five months of the year, a decline of 61.9% over the same period in 2015, and 26,153 Italians, down 26.1% in the same comparison.

The British market is suffering with the effects of the attack on Sousse, last June, which killed mainly British tourists. From January to May 2016, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom was only 8,118 people, a decline of 94.3% over the same period in 2015.

The British Foreign Office up to this day hasn’t changed its warning against trips to Tunisia, but the travel and tourism website TravelMole says that 54% of British tourism operators want to resume selling packages for the country.

For Ben Azouz, even if it’s important to diversify the tourism markets, the classic European markets can’t be replaced. He pointed out that in 2009 Tunisia welcomed 3.5 million Europeans, 60% of all visitors of the country.

“For this season, the solution lies in the domestic market and also in the neighboring market of Algeria (415,253 visitors from January to May), since it’s too late, with the traditional markets establishing their schedules one year in advance. The important thing is to begin now to prepare ourselves for 2017, to secure the revival of tourism in Tunisia”, said the executive.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani