Tunisia braces for "catastrophic" tourist season

12:11, June 04, 2011      

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In a press conference on Thursday, Tunisian tourism professionals said they are bracing up for a catastrophic tourism season, the state official press agency TAP reported on Friday.

Indicators point to a 50 percent decrease in tourism in comparison with 2010 due to the current situation characterized by strikes, sit-ins, events in neighboring Libya, and the absence of short term economic visibility in the coming period.

Chairman of the Tunisian hotel federation Mohamed Bellajouza also blamed the collapse of the Tunisian tourism market, traditionally the second among European countries, on the massive influx of Tunisian immigrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa during the weeks following the ouster of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The federation's major concern is the preservation of the 500, 000 permanent jobs in the sector, he said, adding that it will ask authorities for help in delaying payment of water and power bills as well as the rescheduling the debts of hotel owners and professionals.

The country's 700 travel agencies are also threatened with bankruptcy as a result of the slump in the sector.

Lately, tourism professionals have called for the boosting of local tourism to compensate for the lack of remittances generated by foreign tourism.

In the aftermath of the turmoil generated by the Jan. 14 revolution, Tunisia's tourism industry faced the largest challenge in its history, as reservations from Europe plummeted in favor of Spain, Greece and Turkey.

Source: Xinhua

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