According to Selma Elloumi Rekik, Tunisia’s new minister of tourism and handicrafts, a period of consolidation and growth is what tourism in Tunisia now needs. Rekik is a member of the first government to come to power after free elections following the fall of the dictator Ben Ali, and was sworn in in February of this year.
At ITB Berlin the minister presented her plans for the coming five years. Besides beach tourism, which remains the mainstay of the tourism market, her aim is to establish alternative tourism. The focus here is on tours with the historical train line through the country’s interior and on the Festival Les Dunes Electroniques, which this February attracted 5,000 visitors to the Sahara. The music festival is set amid sand dunes in Neftastatt close to the original location where filming of the Star Wars saga took place. Thalasso therapy, city and cultural tourism are among other areas intended to attract more visitors.
In the wake of the 2011 popular uprising against the dictatorship tourist numbers collapsed. According to the Tunisian Tourist Board, in 2014 figures rose by 0.3 per cent compared to 2013. During the travel season in August and September visitor numbers even exceeded those of 2010, the year before the outbreak of the revolution. In 2014 Tunisia was visited by 425,648 tourists from Germany, which after France was the second most important source market.
The minister said that safety was her government’s utmost priority and noted that “visitors and locals must be safe and feel safe.“ She pointed out that in recent years there had not been a single attack on tourists.