Tunisia hopes to broaden its appeal as more than just a beach destination as UK holidaymakers restore their faith in the country.
The country, known traditionally for offering value for money sun and sea holidays, is already targeting more than double the number of UK visitors in 2018 and is poised to appoint a new marketing agency to promote the destination in the UK and Scandinavia. The contract for the agency is understood to be worth around £1 million a year.
UK visitor numbers are expected to increase from 28,000 this year to 70,000 next year, thanks mainly to Thomas Cook’s decision to restart flights to Tunisia next year. This follows the decision by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to lift the travel ban to the country at the end of July, just over two years after the Sousse beach massacre in June 2015.
The 2017 WTM Industry Report has also highlighted Tunisia as a tourism destination expected to benefit next year. A poll of 1,000 UK holidaymakers, conducted as part of the report, showed 20% felt a trip to Tunisia was now an option, varying from “somewhat likely” to “extremely likely”.
Before the travel ban in 2015, around 420,000 Brits travelled to Tunisia each year, making it the country’s third biggest international visitor market. That fell to 23,000 in 2016 due to the travel restrictions.
Minister of tourism for Tunisia Salma Elloumi Rekik said the country had not only invested significantly in improving security standards but now aimed to attract a wider range of holidaymakers, not just those interested in budget beach breaks. This includes holidaymakers interested in cultural, historical and adventure trips as well as those who take luxury holidays.
She said: “Tunisia is not just 1,300 kilometres of beach. We have 3,000 years of history and civilisation. We are working on diversifying the tourism product in Tunisia. We do not just want to target the cheaper end of the market, we are even looking at the luxury end of the market, as well as attracting other international markets like China.
“It’s very important for us to recover our traditional European markets of the UK, France and Belgium but it’s also important to attract new markets.”
The minister is hopeful the decision by Thomas Cook to restart flights to the destination from next year will be followed by other tour operators. Thomas Cook is working with the tourist board to organise a fam trip for 70 of its top-sellers to Tunisia next March.
“The message is that we are open for business. As a country we have changed and we have a new democracy,” added the minister.
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