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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid