As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck the tourism sector, Tunisia’s Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Habib Ammar has revealed initiatives undertaken by the government to protect the tourism sector from collapse.
“Currently, our priority is to work in the short term to protect the tourism sector from collapsing and preserve the highest possible number of tourism businesses,” said Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Habib Ammar.
The tourism sector, a pillar of the Tunisian economy, endured serious damage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a conference on tourism in the era of the new normal: Transformation or Disruption” held Wednesday as part of the 4th Tunisia Hospitality Symposium, the Minister said the number of tourists up to November 10 dropped 78%.
Tourist revenues and the number of bed nights fell 62% and 80%, respectively, Ammar added.
The tourism industry was hard hit in the first wave of the pandemic with peak season (July to September) profits plunging 71%.
Similarly, the number of tourists and bednights fell 88% and 83%, respectively.
“The tourism sector can resume activity as of next summer if the COVID-19 vaccine is made available in Q1 of 2021,” the minister said.
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts tourism rebound within 2 to 4 years. The Tunisian government recently took measures to preserve the tourism sector.
Domestic tourism will be the priority in the period to come. Seaside tourism will go through upgrading so as to diversify products and increase the attractiveness of Tunisia.
President of the Tunisian Hotel Trade Federation Dorra Miled said the hotel industry, which is the least protected sector of the Tunisian economy, was seriously hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
An 85% decrease in the number of European tourists was reported by late October along with an 80% drop in the number of bednights.
Miled called for implementing the measures recently announced by the government.
Tunisia Hospitality Symposium, held on November 24-25, is an event inspired by the German experience of the University of Heilbronn.
The goal is to create a space for meeting and sharing between the various actors of the tourism sector.
It is geared towards public and private hotel trade stakeholders as well as teachers, researchers and students in a bid to foster dialogue and initiate a process of reflection that will help boost the Tunisian tourism sector.