Tunisia has enjoyed an increase in tourism, and this looks set to continue as more and more people take an interest in northern Africa and think about going on their holidays to Tunisia. Culturally, there are beautiful cities and many archaeological sites of interest.
Many holidaymakers and travelers are asking whether the country will change, in view of the increasing tourist trade. Is it inevitable — and will the ‘real’ Tunisia disappear? It has been suggested that the unique Tunisian dish of harissa (based on chili peppers and coriander) with meat or fish might even become as ubiquitous as pasta with tomato and basil sauce as is common in other Mediterranean countries.
Tourism here is popular with eastern Europeans, Libyans, the French, Algerians, Germans and British, in addition to its own domestic holiday trade. There are approximately 100,000 hotel rooms with some 200,000 beds available within the country and the occupancy rate is (on average) less than 60 per cent. Arrivals in the country peaked at approximately seven million in 2008, and remained high until 2010 before falling. Last year, the total arrivals figure recovered to approximately six million, and during the first quarter of this year 2014 there was an increase of approximately 7 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. The low point in 2011 was due to political instability in the country.
Many travel industry and tourism experts consider that this growth trend is likely to continue, pointing out that at the moment Tunisian holidays are mainly centered around beach resorts — in other words, “sun and sea” marketing. Nonetheless, Tunisia offers much more — culture, wellness, a move towards eco-tourism and numerous ancient Roman ruins. There are also some golf courses and speeches have been made to promote medical tourism. Some of these opportunities have been missed in the past and so may represent growth opportunities for the future.
Conversely, the lack of flights and landing slots has limited air travel to the country. The situation has improved slightly (towards an “open skies” policy), but further change is needed to really catapult growth. The hotel and travel trade are highly competitive.
Long-term growth is probable, but it might be limited for a while due to some of the opposing factors.