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Unrest Hits Tunisia's Economy

Tourists arriving on a Germania Airways flight from Monastir, Tunisia, use their mobile phones to contact their families at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, 15 Jan 2011.

Weeks of unrest have hurt several parts of Tunisia's diverse economy, particularly its tourism industry, prompting a credit agency to warn it may cut the nation's credit rating.

Experts at Standard & Poors said Tuesday, political instability and violent conflict could affect Tunisia's economic growth this year, and perhaps hurt public finance. A lower credit rating means lenders would probably charge higher interest rates, raising the cost of borrowing needed to finance new projects or re-finance old debt.

Thousands of tourists have already left Tunisia, after foreign governments and private security experts warned against non-essential travel to the country, which offers beaches and key historic sites.

News reports say tour operators in Germany, Taiwan, Sweden and elsewhere are cutting trips.

That unrest is fueled in part by a high jobless rate and sharp increases in food prices.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.