News / Middle East

Tunisia Tourism Hangs in Balance as Political Unrest Continues

Empty streets in Tunisia's seaside resort of Hammamet
Empty streets in Tunisia's seaside resort of Hammamet

Multimedia

Weeks of unrest in Tunisia have undermined a linchpin of the North African country's economy - tourism.  Tunisia's tourist industry is a major employer and accounts for 6.5 percent of the country's economic output.  But from the tourist resort of Hammamet, it looks like tourists might soon return.

For years Tunisia has profited from its beauty, drawing flocks of European tourists to its beaches, its Roman ruins, and the towns that mirror its rich history.

Now Tunisia is offering a different face to the world - that of revolt.  Popular unrest this month has forced President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali from office and kept many tourists away.

The demonstrations shook Tunisia's seaside resort of Hammamet.  Furious residents destroyed the home of President Ben Ali's son-in-law.

Now they walk through the remains of the cavernous seaside villa - tourists in their own hometown.

In Hammamet, travel agents like Sadok Younes have time on their hands. Younes says hundreds of tourists have fled.  He says he hopes that those who remain will serve as ambassadors to lure back others.

Hammamet's empty streets are mirrored elsewhere in Tunisia.  Only locals venture into the cafes of the famous, cliffside town of Sidi Bou Said, which often are crowded, even in January.

Several economic ratings agencies have cut their growth forecasts for Tunisia, warning that continued unrest could deter tourism and foreign investment.  But some analysts are more optimistic.

So is Sidi Bou cafe owner Guizeni Ons.

"There are some Japanese, some Americans, I think.  Yesterday I saw two," Ons said.  "And they are, as usual, looking and enjoying the sand and quiet.  Yes, but also I think they are enjoying these events."

In Hammamet, Bert Saunders of Britain says he is looking at Tunisia and its former former president in a different way.

"I was never aware of just how much of a dictator he was," he said.  "We've lived here for two years.  And as tourists, we got treated very openly and fairly.  And I think that's the general nature of Tunisian people."

Marie Lucas of France, who gazes out to sea at Hammamet's port one afternoon, says she feels closer to a country she knows well after its often-called "Jasmine Revolution."

Lucas says tourists should come here to boost Tunisia's economy and its fledgling democracy.

In Sidi Bou Said, cafe owner Ons says the country's popular uprising might also boost tourism.

"We will always have our sun, our beaches, our hotels, our quiet and our security.  And more than this, we will have our freedom," said Ons.  "And this will be good this for tourism, I think - not the opposite."

Ons says he is certain of one thing - freedom is good for Tunisia.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid