TUNIS, Tunisia – The terror attacks against a French newspaper on Jan. 7 resulted in cancellations by tourists to Tunisia after the past year already saw a drop in arrivals, said the Tunisian tourism minister Thursday.
Amel Karboul told journalists that the cancellations were “irrational,” especially in light of the improvement in the country’s security situation. French make up one of the largest group of tourists in Tunisia and their numbers dropped 6.1 per cent in 2014.
Tunisia depends heavily on tourism for its economy and the numbers of visitors and the money they spend have yet to reach the level of 2010, the year of the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The country has been wracked by turmoil in the ensuing years, including strikes, protests and political assassinations and there was a catastrophic drop in the number of foreigners visiting the country’s beaches and picturesque cities.
In the past year, though, security forces have celebrated a number of successes against armed militants and a series of elections have completed the democratic transition. The number of German, Italian, British and especially Algerian visitors increased in 2014.
While the total number of tourists dropped by 3.2 per cent to just over 6 million, income from tourism was up by 6.4 per cent to 1.59 billion euros, indicating those that did come, spent more money.
Karboul also announced a new strategy of investment based on World Bank studies to improve the sector to attract more tourists. A quarter of the investments are targeted toward traditionally neglected interior regions.