Tunisia’s travel agencies hit as coronavirus pandemic pummels tourism

Above, the Baths of Antoninus or Baths of Carthage is empty after measures were taken by authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus on March 20, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Tunisia’s travel agencies hit as coronavirus pandemic pummels tourism

  • Travel agencies are in ‘a very difficult situation’

DUBAI: Tunisia’s travel brokers took a massive hit during the first half as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for up to 14 percent national output.

Business in the travel brokerage sector, with about 1,300 travel agencies and nearly 20,000 travel agents, fell by up to 80 percent during the first half, Hatem Salhi, a senior official representing the industry, said in a report from state news agency TAP.

Travel agencies are in ‘a very difficult situation’, especially after the total of paralysis of trips, Salhi said.

The coronavirus revealed a set of weaknesses within the Tunisian system, such as the absence of an insurance law on ‘force majeure,’ he added, as he called on a single-sector and unified trade union.

Domestic tourism should be consolidated through the promotion of travel tours as well as cultural tourism, Salhi said.

Tunisia reopened its borders on June 27 and travelers from countries classified as ‘green’ – including France, Germany and Luxembourg – who are not subject to any coronavirus restrictions were slowly returning after a break of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

Updated 23 min 27 sec ago

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir announced that the Alexandria Port would be receiving a new batch of 22 passenger railroad cars, bringing the total of Russian railroad cars so far to 103 vehicles, as part of a deal to manufacture and supply 1,300 new passenger railroad cars.

The deal, signed between the Egyptian Railways Authority and Russian-Hungarian company Transmashholding, is the largest in the history of Egypt’s railways, with a value of €1.16 billion ($1.8 billion).

Al-Wazir confirmed that the 22 railroad cars that arrived are third-class vehicles with dynamic ventilation.

The deal includes 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 third-class air-conditioned vehicles (a new service offered to passengers for the first time in the history of Egyptian railways), 180 second-class vehicles, 90 first-class vehicles, 30 air-conditioned buffet vehicles and 500 dynamic ventilated third-class vehicles.

Al-Wazir indicated that 35 vehicles have arrived during the current month, which is the average monthly supply agreed upon with the manufacturer, pointing out that this rate enables the railway authority to form three new trains consisting of tractors and all-new cars that are entered monthly to become part of the line.

Al-Wazir said that the deal contributes to raising the efficiency of the Egyptian railways’ daily operations and schedules. This coincides with the Egyptian Railway Authority’s projects to modernize infrastructure, including signaling systems, crossings, stations and other aspects.

All these projects that the ministry implemented contributed to increasing safety and security in train operations and improving the level of service.

Egypt is seeking to develop its railways, the second oldest in the world, after witnessing unfortunate accidents during the past two decades.

Over the past few years, railways in Egypt have undergone major development, represented by the modernization of the fleet of tractors and vehicles of various classes and the maintenance of trains and old railways.

According to official data, Egypt spent EGP 40 billion ($2.5 billion) on railway development projects during the past six years. Projects at a cost of EGP 86 billion are currently under way, and there is a plan to start implementing others at a cost of EGP 55 billion.