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Tunisia: The seaside resorts taken by storm, but the crowds are below the expectations of tourism professionals

05-08-2022

The tourist season is in full swing. The largest seaside resorts in the country see thousands of tourists flocking every day to enjoy the turquoise waters and white sand beaches.

After two difficult years following the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels that were on the brink of financial abyss can finally breathe.

According to the indicators of the Central Bank of Tunisia? tourist revenues increased by 50% until June 10 compared to the year 2021. For its part, the Tunisian National Tourist Office affirmed that the number of tourists increased by 100% exceeding two million to the end of June.

“Since the weekend preceding July 25, the pace of reservations has accelerated, especially on the local market side”, underlines Rached Krid, Commercial Director of the hotel chain Medina Hotels with three establishments located in the Yasmine area. Hammamet.

Indeed, the influx of Tunisians in hotels coincides with the holidays. “As for our hotel, we are almost full until August 13th. The client profile is mainly civil servants, executives with families. We feel that there is a real enthusiasm on their part. This encourages them to go out to spend outside the hotel thus promoting the development of businesses,” says Mr. Krid.

However, a downside came to disrupt a season that promised to be successful. Indeed, the hotelier explains that the hoped-for massive arrival of Algerian tourists is very far from expectations. “We work a lot with Algerian customers and we are delighted with the opening of the borders and we are prepared. Unfortunately they are not there”, he tells us.

After two years of closure, the land borders between the two countries reopened on July 15, giving hope for the massive arrival of Algerians known to favor Tunisia as a destination for their holidays.

Two reasons are at the origin of this situation: the Sanitary Pass and the increase in the cost of reservations as well as living.

“I spoke with the representative of the Tunisian Tourist Office in Algeria and he explains that the main reason remains in the obligation to present a PCR test when they return to Algeria. Knowing that a PCR test costs 170DT in Tunisia, this represents a substantial budget especially for those who come with family. In addition, there is a gray area on the entry conditions in the event of a positive test… There is no side answer there. On the other hand, you should know that in Algeria, many people are not vaccinated… a prohibitive situation for entry into Tunisian territory since proof of the vaccination schedule must be presented”, adds Rached Krid.

Still according to the hotelier, Algerians also complain about the increase in prices both for overnight stays in hotels but also for life in general, due to inflation.

However, things have since changed. The President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, decided last Sunday to exempt Algerian tourists from the PCR screening test, after consultation with the Tunisian and Algerian interior ministers. A measure which is likely to boost the arrivals of Algerians on the national territory.

More than 60,000 tourists have so far crossed the borders to Tunisia, the Minister of Tourism said recently, estimating that his department is betting on the arrival of one million Algerian tourists this year.

A year of survival

We also contacted Mr Abdessattar Badri, Managing Director of TTS, who is the largest travel agency in the country. It holds the majority of the markets with the most famous Tour Operators in the world, but also the airline company Nouvel Air. In a previous article, the latter had already claimed that this is a year of survival. “We weren’t very optimistic before the season started. We were pretty realistic. But this season is far from what we hoped. We can’t really talk about recovery. Finally, this year should allow us to prepare for 2023,” the professional tells us.

He explains that even if the figures are positive and much better than those of 2021, they are not up to expectations.

He also adds that this situation is perhaps “a blessing in disguise”. In this sense, Abdessatar Badri recalls that hoteliers are not ready to receive a very large influx of tourists. “After two years of crisis, we cannot update the structures and the quality of the service in just a few months. That’s why this season can be a kind of preparation for next year,” he told us.

On the other hand, Abdessattar Badri insisted on the fact that the authorities must urgently adopt a strategy to improve the quality of reception of travelers at Tunis-Carthage airport. “It is not normal for a European tourist to fly two hours so that once he arrives at the airport, he has to wait 2 or even 2.5 hours more to get out”.

Indeed, many images have circulated on social networks showing travelers annoyed by the long wait to complete police formalities or to collect luggage because of poor logistics.

Not to mention the infrastructure itself. “The first image that the tourist sees when arriving at his destination is the airport. Here in Tunis, he finds first a long wait and then taking out rubbish on the ground and construction waste which also litters the ground! The courtyard which allows tourists to wait in the shade before boarding the transfer buses has been transformed into a motorcycle parking lot. It’s serious! “.

In addition to the summer season, it is also necessary to work on the back season, in winter. Indeed, English and French tourists are regulars of this so-called “hollow” period. According to Badri, two English tour operators have already confirmed the maintenance of 3 flights each, ie 6 flights for this winter. “Six flights in winter are worth more than 20 flights in summer, because these are charter planes that are filled with tourists only,” concluded the CEO of TTS.

Wissal Ayadi

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