Tunisia tourism industry in freefall after attacks
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The attack Friday that killed 38 tourists in Tunisia will have a devastating effect on the country’s important tourism sector, FRANCE 24 reports.
Tourism represents seven percent of Tunisia's GDP and employs 400,000 people from a population of 11 million. Six million holidaymakers visit the country every year and that number is unlikely to be repeated for a long while following the massacre.
It is the second attack against a Tunisian tourism site this year following the massacre in March at the Bardo museum in Tunis where two gunmen opened fire on tourists as they arrived by bus.
Spanish, Italian and Japanese were among the 21 killed.
The country, meanwhile, is only just emerging as a full democracy after its 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia is at a sensitive juncture as the new government tries to kickstart the economy and create jobs demanded by young Tunisians.
Friday’s attack, in which a gunman ignored Tunisians and aimed deliberately at foreign tourists, could not have come at a worse time.
According to the French travel agency Federation SNAV, some 100,000 French tourists had booked holidays in Tunisia in the coming months. Three quarters of these have since been cancelled.
Tunisians relying on business from tourism are now facing ruin.
"We don't sell anything,” one florist told FRANCE 24. “We used to do business with tourists, but now... nothing,"
The owners of one hotel in Tunis said they have taken exceptional safety measures to try and save what's left of the tourist season.
"We shut down the beach access and set up 24/7 patrols,” the hotel manager told FRANCE 24. “We also tripled our security personnel."
The Tunisian tourism ministry has announced a series of measures in a bid to reverse the catastrophic consequences of the attack.
These include a 4 per cent reduction in VAT, compensation packages for unemployed tourism workers, and exceptional loans to help finance tourism related ventures across the country.
But despite the measures, there is widespread pessimism in an industry that expects to lose 450 million euros in revenue this year.