Pandemic impact on Tunisia tourism 'catastrophic'

11:38 | 27/09/2020
Tunisia's tourism sector has collapsed, officials warned Saturday, with earnings plunging 60 percent and swathes of hotels at risk of closing permanently.
pandemic impact on tunisia tourism catastrophic
Mabrouka (L) her sister Meriam and children from their families, sit in front of their house, in a popular neighbourhood of the eastern Tunisian port city of Sfax, on September 11, 2020. Mabrouka, like a growing number of Tunisians tried to migrate illegally, hoping to find opportunities not available in her country, where unemployment exceeds 30 percent in some regions.(Hamdi ZAGHDANE / AFP)

The sector, a major employer that accounts for 14 percent of the North African nation's GDP, has been hit hard by restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"There has been a drop in tourism activities of 60 percent, and we could reach 70 percent by the end of 2020," Tourism Minister Habib Ammar told reporters.

Tunisia's income from tourism this year has totalled just 1.56 billion dinars ($563 million), officials statistics showed.

Total bed nights -- the number of nights visitors stayed in hotels -- dropped by 79.5 percent.

"The current tourism situation is very bad -- if not catastrophic," said Khaled Fakhfakh, president of the Federation of Tunisian Hotels.

"Sixty percent of hotels have not opened this year and they risk not reopening, mainly because of Covid-19."

Tunisia was already battling high unemployment before the start of the pandemic.

The small Mediterranean country, with a population of around 11 million, has recorded 191 deaths from the novel coronavirus out of 14,392 cases.

AFP

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