unwtoUNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, participated last Sunday with other international dignitaries and UN representatives in the support march held in Tunes. On the occasion of his visit to Tunisia, Mr Rifai discussed the contribution of tourism to the country’s socio-economic development with President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Habib Essid and agreed a new cooperation programme with the Minister of Tourism of Tunisia, Salma Elloumi Rekik.

Meeting with President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Habib Essid, Mr Rifai recalled the role of tourism in creating prosperity and jobs in Tunisia and the importance of having the sector supported at the highest political level, expressing his full confidence in the fast recovery of tourism to Tunisia. Both dignitaries reiterated their full believe and support to tourism.

“Tourism employs 400.000 people in Tunisia and is a key driver of the economy. With the political support I have testified today and a national tourism policy coordinated among all Ministries I trust that we will see a swift recovery of tourism to Tunisia and the sector playing a fundamental role in this new era of country”, said Mr Rifai.

“We are determined to move forward and there is a political will to revive this sector, as shown by the numerous measures undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism. In addition to the promotional activities such as the organization of the support march and meetings with the foreign tour operators, we will also focus on domestic tourism and tourism from the Maghreb to overcome this situation”, said the Minister of Tourism of Tunisia, Salma Elloumi Rekik.

UNWTO and Tunisia agreed on a new cooperation framework which includes the areas of communications, education and training and hotel classification. “Tunisia is open to receive all tourists. Tunisia is and will continue to be a leading tourism destination” said Rifai. “It is time to look into the future and consolidate the sector by investing in quality and human resources development and UNWTO is very pleased to be here to support Tunisia in this regard”, he added.

Tunisia will also host the 5th edition of the UNWTO Tourism and the Media Conference during the last quarter of 2015.