DUBAI: Tunisia’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and is expected to decline further before 2020 ends.
Tourist activity has shrunk by 60 percent, the country’s tourism minister Habib Ammar said, and that figure could reach 70 percent to reflect the World Tourism Organization’s estimate for global tourism.
Tourism accounts for about eight percent of Tunisia’s national output and is the country’s second biggest employer, with around 400,000 people involved in the industry, after the agricultural sector.
The number of tourists rose 13.6 percent to 9.5 million in 2019, a record level, but Tunisia’s 10-million-visitor target for this year was sidelined when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Despite this quandary, the government is considering various proposals to help stakeholders in the sector, state news agency TAP reported.
A gradual recovery of tourism activity will be recorded next year, both worldwide and nationwide, ensuring that the tourist units that will be preserved will have the capacity to accommodate tourists, it added.
Ammar also said that government remains committed to implement support plans such as the rescheduling of the settlement of bank and social security fund debts, and extending credits over longer repayment periods.
The tourism ministry is working with all intervening parties to implement this measure, which will make it possible to provide liquidity to the tourist units, and consequently, to guarantee a better future for the tourist activity, he added.
“This will also allow the ministry to develop a strategy and a clear plan for the sector in the medium and long term.”