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The director of Tunisia’s national tourism office says he is “very optimistic” the industry will recover after last year’s terrorist attacks which killed 30 Britons.
Abdellatif Hamam said Tunisa and Britain were working “hand in hand” to increase security and is hopeful the UK government would ease travel restrictions to the African country.
Tunisia’s tourism minister, Salma Elloumi Rekik, is due to meet with the Foreign Office this afternoon to make the case that the country is safe and ready to welcome visitors again.
She is expected to suggest that efforts made by the Tunisian government in conjunction with security experts from the UK have to be recognised.
Speaking to Travel Weekly on day three of WTM, Hamam said: “I am very optimistic we will recover because we are a different country in this region. We have an active and dynamic society which is fighting to recover their stability. We don’t have a tradition of terrorism. We are very welcoming and very close to Europe.”
But Hamam said tour operators and travel agents needed “concrete and credible” information from the Tunisian government which is endorsed by the UK, to begin promoting the country again.
“We need to think about the families who lost relatives and then look to our partners, including travel agents, and see what we can do in a progressive manner,” he said.
“Tunisia was very shocked about what happened. Not just about losing business but about damaging the image of Tunisia as a welcoming, peaceful country.”
Hamam said WTM was his first direct contact with the UK after the terrorist attack and their stand this year was considerably more “modest”.
The tourism office is currently in talks with airlines, including Ryanair, to “create more opportunities” for travel companies to work with Tunisia.
Hamam also said the country would “break barriers” and open up the country’s economy to help re-build the industry.
“We understand the UK’s sensitivity when it comes to security but it’s also important to think about specific support for the Tunisian people and the Tunisian economy at this difficult time,” he said.
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