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Pandemic impact on Tunisia tourism ‘catastrophic’

Agence France-Presse

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Pandemic impact on Tunisia tourism ‘catastrophic’

European tourists walk at the beach on the Tunisian island of Djerba on July 18, 2020, a day after the arrival of the first charter flights to the country since the COVID-19 crisis erupted. - Tunisia has been hit hard by the economic and social fallout brought about by a total closure of borders due to the pandemic, and the authorities aim for the beginnig of 2021 for a revival of the tourism sector, which makes up 8 to 14% of the GDP, employs half a million individuals and is the worst affected by the health crisis. (Photo by FATHI NASRI / AFP)

AFP

Official statistics show Tunisia's income from tourism has totaled just 1.56 billion dinars ($563 million) in 2020

Tunisia’s tourism sector has collapsed, officials warned on Saturday, September 26, with earnings plunging 60% and swathes of hotels at risk of closing permanently.

The sector, a major employer that accounts for 14% of the North African nation’s gross domestic product, 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%, and we could reach 70% by the end of 2020,” Tourism Minister Habib Ammar told reporters.

Tunisia’s income from tourism this year has totaled 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%.

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

“60% 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. – Rappler.com

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