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Africa

In pictures: Tunisia turns to Star Wars to boost tourism

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-01

Dozens of Star Wars characters paraded through Tunis on Wednesday to draw attention to the deterioration of Oung Jmel, a rock in the south of Tunisia, which was a set for Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1990.

A crowd, including children waving lightsabers, greeted Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia and other characters in the centre of Tunis (see the diaporama below).

They were brought to Tunis on the initiative of "Stars Wars Tunisia", an association of local fans, with the support of the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism.

"This event is an opportunity to draw attention to Tunisia and to promote tourism, as well as encouraging fans to save one of the sites where the film was shot in the Tunisian south,” Abderrahmane Ameur, the president of the fan association told AFP.

At the start of April, the Tunisian government launched an international campaign to raise money to save the fictional Mos Espa, the home town of Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader. The site is threatened by dunes that are advancing 15 metres every year. Some parts are already breaking up under the sand.

The Tunisian authorities want to raise almost 300,000 Tunisian dinars, (137,000 Euros), to preserve the site. The government has already put up more than half the amount and an appeal has been launched to raise the rest of the money.

Fans from countries including Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and Belgium have gathered for a series of events that runs until May 4 and includes another "Star Wars" parade in Tozeur in the south and a film projection in Oung Jmel itself.

The Tourism Ministry wants to promote tourism based on "Star Wars” and also aims to help the longterm development in the south of the country. Tourism is crucial to the Tunisian economy but was hard hit by the 2011 revolution.

The cast for "Star Wars: Episode VII" was unveiled on April 29 by Disney, which now owns the rights to the franchise. The film crew is preparing at studios in London but, for the moment, there has been no indication that Tunisia will once again serve as the backdrop to the adventures of the Jedi.

 (FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-05-01

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