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Tourism hopes on Tunisia stability

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 - 02:14

Mar 13 - Tunisians hope this year will see the return of tourists to the interior regions as well as the beaches. But the trade depends on the stability of the country three years after a revolution. Ciara Sutton reports

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Three years after a revolution that triggered the Arab Spring, Tunisia is expecting 2014 to be the year the tourists return. A record seven million are expected, as the country enjoys political stability for the first time since the uprising. A welcome relief to those working in holiday resorts. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MOSBAH, CARRIAGE DRIVER, SAYING: "I don't have an alternative. I've been working for 17 years on a carriage. What could I do next? I don't have any other skills, or profession? Neither a project to launch." Tunisia has a new constitution and a caretaker government. And elections later this year will be fully democratic. After revolts in nearby Egypt and Libya, the country is seen as a positive role model for a largely unstable region. The tourism industry has a big hill to climb - the number of visitors dropped to around 6 million in 2012. Hotels in the Saharan desert town of Tozeur have been relying on Tunisian holidaymakers. And many cultural landmarks remain locked up, with shops struggling to survive. Tourism co-ordinator for the Southwest region, Mohamed Sayem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURISM CO-ORDINATOR FOR THE SOUTHWEST REGION, MOHAMED SAYEM, SAYING: "2014 is the year of hope, the year of a new departure because the three last years were very hard. They greatly influenced the tourism sector. And you know that when tourism decreases it affects directly and rapidly the economy and the social climate in the region," . Tunisia was once a favourite destination for German, British and Russian holiday-makers, along with tourists from its former ruler France. The sector accounts for 8 percent of the country's GDP. But only the adventurous have been coming in recent years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN, AUSTRALIAN TOURIST RESIDENT IN LIBYA, SAYING: "The Atlas mountains, the Tunisians of Tozeur and Tataouin, and that sort of place, are unique and that's interesting to come and see something of the country and it's a lot more fun than coming to a tourist resort on the beach." But the threat of Islamist militant attacks still casts a shadow over the industry. A suicide bomber killed himself on a popular beach resort at the end of last year - the first such attack in a decade

Tourism hopes on Tunisia stability

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 - 02:14

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