Tourism-reliant Tunisia said Friday the first holiday charter planes since last summer had begun to return to the country, despite stiff restrictions imposed to stem surging coronavirus cases.
"We wanted to send a positive message, to show that we are ready to receive tourists," Tunisian national tourist office director Moez Belhassine told AFP.
Belhassine said tourists must follow strict health rules, including providing a negative test on arrival and only leaving their hotels in groups.
Travelers arriving from Monday will have to quarantine in hotels for five to seven days, the government announced Wednesday.
The Mediterranean country, with a population of around 11 million, has recorded more than 307,000 coronavirus cases and over 10,600 deaths.
Hospitals are struggling to cope with a recent surge in infections, schools have been closed since mid-April, and a curfew is in effect from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am, with a ban on the circulation of vehicles starting at 7:00 pm.
Tourism in Tunisia rebounded to over 9.5 million visitors in 2019. But last year, the number of arrivals dropped by 80 percent and tourism revenues by 64 percent, Belhassine said.
Tourism made up around 14 percent of Tunisia's GDP before the Covid-19 pandemic.