Tunisia’s tourism returns have dropped by 64 percent to 1.9 billion dinars ($691 million) from early 2020 until December 10, compared to the same period in 2019.
According to the Tourism Ministry, returns had amounted to 5.3 billion dinars (about $1.9 billion) in 2019, according to the latest data published by the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT).
This drop is mainly due to the decrease in the number of European tourists (especially French and German) during the summer season, greatly affecting the entire system associated with the tourism sector, including traditional industries, travel agencies, and car rental companies.
On June 27, Tunisia reopened its border and scheduled the full return of the tourism activity starting July. However, the rapid coronavirus outbreak in neighboring European countries and the start of a second wave of infections prevented any positive outcomes.
In this context, Tourism Minister Habib Ammar said tourism activities and traditional industries are in a state of complete paralysis after the rise in the number of COVID-19 infections.
Data from his ministry showed that the number of tourists arriving so far in Tunisia has fallen by 78 percent compared to the same period in 2019 and tourism revenues dropped by 64 percent.
In order to address this exceptional situation, the government approved a set of incentive measures aimed at preserving the institutions operating in tourism and traditional industries.
The government also decided to exempt travel agencies from contributing to the Development Fund for Competitiveness in Tourism.
It further approved to enable unemployed workers and tourist guides from a monthly grant of 200 Tunisian dinars (about $72.7).
The tourism ministry prepared a program to stimulate domestic tourism until late March 2021 to compensate for the severe shortfall in European tourism markets, in particular, and in tourists from the Maghreb region, especially Algeria and Libya.
Domestic tourism does not represent more than 10 percent of all tourism activities, yet the ministry is working to raise this rate to about 25 percent, saving a significant number of Tunisian tourist hotels from closing.