The Tourism Crisis in Tunisia Goes Beyond Security Issues

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Al-Monitor
Summary
Tunisia’s tourism model is overly reliant on medium-range resorts that cater to middle-income tourists from Europe. A shift toward attracting visitors from rising income nations in Asia and South America may offer potential for growth.
Related Topics
Related Media and Tools
 

The number of tourists who visited Tunisia in 2011 did not exceed three million. This contrasts with the over seven million visitors to the country in each of the three years preceding the revolution.

While there were signs of recovery in the first month of this year as a result of a gradual increase in the number of foreign tourists to Tunisia and the Ministry of Tourism’s “All Dreams are Possible” promotion campaign, doubt of a sustained uptick re-emerged after several security incidents over the past few days. These incidents led the government to impose a curfew in the capital and a number of large cities.

It may be too early to accurately assess how the deteriorating security situation will affect the tourism sector. Nevertheless, indicators point to an increased level of concern among tourists who intended to spend their holidays in Tunisia. Some would-be tourists have canceled their reservations and changed their travel plans to more secure countries.

Tourism is a sector of strategic importance to Tunisia; it accounts for seven percent of the country’s GDP, and adds about 400,000 real jobs to the economy. Given the close linkages between tourism and other economic activities, such as trade, handicraft and transportation, the decline in the number of tourists negatively affects the revenues of these other sectors as well, indirectly threatening the livelihoods of those employed within them.

Even though an improvement of the country’s security situation is a prerequisite for the tourism sector to recover from its slump, better security alone is by no means sufficient. The tourism crisis took a turn for the worse after the revolution, but the sector’s problems are structural and deeply rooted in investment policies prevailing under Ben Ali’s regime.

The tourism sector in Tunisia has suffered from its over-reliance on enclosed beach resorts of medium quality, which, for the most part, caters to middle-income visitors from the European Union. This business model led to tiny profits, and high exposure to volatile economic conditions. Data from the World Tourism Organization (WTO) show that the average per capita spending of tourists coming to Tunisia does not exceed $385, the lowest among all touristic destinations on the Mediterranean coast. Average per capita spending for tourists visiting Morocco is $725, while it is $770 in Turkey, $890 in Egypt and $1000 in Greece.

On the other hand, during Ben Ali’s reign the tourism sector attracted a large number of investors who took advantage of their close ties to the regime for privileged business opportunities, which included access to cheap land, tax breaks and discounted bank loans. The professional entrepreneurs with no ties to the regime suffered from arbitrary administrative decisions, especially when it came to the classification of tourist accommodations and access to licenses.

During the decade that preceded the Jasmine Revolution, the annual number of tourists coming to Tunisia increased from five to seven million while the number of tourists going to Morocco increased from less than five million to over nine million over the same period of time. Meanwhile, the number of tourists visiting Turkey increased twofold, while those going to Egypt increased by a factor of 2.5.

The recovery of the Tunisian tourism industry depends on a reasonable level of stability and security. But to develop the sector and ensure future economic growth capable of creating jobs to ease the country’s rampant unemployment — especially among educated young people — requires a deep change of the country’s strategy in two key directions.

First, Tunisia must take into account the demographic changes occurring in Europe, and the newly increased demand for cultural, ecological, adventure and exploration tourism. The WTO estimates show that close to 40 percent of all worldwide tourism revolves around cultural activities. These types of touristic activities are more profitable, and less sensitive to seasonal changes.

Second, Tunisia needs to open new markets in order to diversify its tourism revenues, and overcome the over reliance on European tourists, who account currently for 80 percent of Tunisia’s visitors. Asian and South American emerging markets are becoming important sources of tourists as their living standards improve and air-transport routes between different parts of the world expand.

Tunisia has all the fundamentals to develop a diversified and high quality tourism sector. Taking advantage of its endowments remains subject to the government’s ability, through consultations and coordination with the sector professionals, to put forth a coherent strategy for the future that can adapt to the changes in demand and make full advantage of the country’s human, natural and historical wealth.

This article was originally published in Al-Monitor.

End of document
 
Source http://carnegie-mec.org/2012/06/26/tourism-crisis-in-tunisia-goes-beyond-security-issues/ch6z

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
 
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-2103 Phone: 202 483 7600 Fax: 202 483 1840
Please note...

You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。