Interview: Amel Hachani
What is being done to develop the tourism sector?
AMEL HACHANI: The development strategy has two major aims. First, we want to extend the tourist season to a full year; and second, we want to add value to all our travel experiences. Although Tunisia currently mainly attracts families on their summer holidays to all-inclusive hotels, the authorities are encouraging the introduction of alternative attractions. In order to reach our objectives, we are focusing on three major areas: improving the quality of services, diversifying the offering and strengthening international connectivity. This requires close collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Transport. In so doing we seek to promote a wider array of tourism activities to visitors, in order to attract a broader range of tourists over a longer period of the year. Improving travel conditions to and within the country should also result in greater passenger traffic to different locations, thus extending lengths of stay and boosting economic growth throughout the country.
In what ways can alternative activities contribute to the growth of the sector?
HACHANI: Extending the tourist season requires a broader offering for tourists. There is growing demand for activities related to culture and traditions. Furthermore, we are registering an increase in the amount of revenue generated by tourists exploring the interior regions of Tunisia and visiting historical landmarks. While the country’s 3000-year history is a notable asset for the sector, it has to be managed optimally. We also need greater investment in infrastructure. However, several government entities are actively contributing to the development of these attractions, and these efforts are already bearing fruit. While it may take some time before the sector’s full potential is realised, Tunisia is committed to developing this segment. We have also seen an increase in the number of foreign visitors attending traditional festivals, and therefore it makes sense to start capitalising on such activities. Moreover, developing products around gastronomy and sports can be another source of income for the country. In order to achieve this, Tunisia is in the process of developing its sports facilities and attracting more international events.
Tunisia’s economy is embracing a digital transformation and the tourism sector is no exception to this. The use of new ICT technologies has become an integral part of consumer habits, and the tourism sector has to keep up with this trend. Whether it comes to planning their trip, learning about attractions, making reservations or getting around the country, an increasing share of tourists use the internet.
Given that ICT is essential to increasing the visibility of different tourism activities and making them more attractive to holidaymakers, we are keen to develop services that cater to new habits and manners of consumption. To this end, improving digital services is being coupled with the further development of human resources in the hospitality industry.
How could the sector expect to benefit from improved transport connectivity?
HACHANI: While a large share of tourism in Tunisia is still directed towards Djerba and the surrounding areas, other regions of the country also have the potential to attract tourists. In line with our ambition to establish a strong tourism sector that is active all year round, developing travel infrastructure inside the country is expected to increase the number of visitors and prolong the length of their stay. This renders inland regions more accessible to tourists and helps to attract both tourists who are specifically interested in the country’s desert region and those who might consider it as an additional attraction as part of a longer stay. This will also bring new regions in line with the dynamics as the country’s coastline.
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