The Tunisian tourism ministry said on Tuesday that tourism revenues have increased by 19 percent in the first eight months of 2017 compared to the same period last year, a sign of recovery in the vital sector crippled two years ago by two attacks on foreign tourists.
Tunisia is struggling to revive the tourism sector, which has been heavily affected since the attacks of 2015. In June of that year, a gunman shot tourists at a hotel in Sousse Resort and killed 38 people. Three months earlier, two other gunmen killed 21 foreign tourists in an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis. ISIS adopted the two attacks.
But with the improvement of the security situation in the country, most of the hotels in Tunisia were filled this summer, the peak tourist season.
Tourism Minister Salma Loumi said there are good indicators, revenues rose by 19 percent to 1.5 billion Tunisian dinars ($613 million) since the beginning of 2017, till August 10 compared to the same period of 2016. She also noted that the number of European tourists rose 16 percent, while Algerian tourists were up to 60 percent.
From January till August 10, 4.58 million foreign tourists visited the North African country.
Tunisian officials expect the number of foreign tourists to rise to 6.5 million this year, up about 30 percent from 2016, due to an improving security situation and interest from new markets, including Russia.
Last month, Britain’s foreign office said it was no longer advising against travel to most of the North African country including the capital Tunis and major tourist destinations. The decision was greeted by the Tunisian government, which said it will open new perspectives for tourism.
Tour operator Thomas Cook has said it will resume offering holidays in Tunisia following the latest decision. Tunisia’s tourism ministry said it expected the company to start offering flights to Tunisia from February 2018.
Tourism accounts for about 8 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product, and represents the second biggest sector providing job opportunities after the agriculture sector.