Tunisia Looks to Win Back Tourists with Image Makeover

Inès Bel Aiba

TUNIS: Tunisia is working against the clock to salvage its 2014 tourist season after three turbulent years, by revamping the country’s image – with the help of online media and a few Star Wars characters.
“To change a country from one that is relatively inexpensive to a top-end tourist destination will take 10 or 15 years,” said Amel Karboul, Tunisia’s new tourism minister.

“But to change the image of a country from one that’s cheap to one that is ‘fun’ can be done much more quickly, and that’s a priority for us,” Karboul said, referring to perceptions of Tunisia as a budget holiday destination.

The North African country hopes to welcome 7 million tourists this year, a slight increase on the 6.9 million who visited in 2010 before the revolution that ousted a decades-old dictatorship and unleashed outbreaks of Islamist violence that damaged Tunisia’s reputation.
The number of tourists fell to just 4.7 million in 2011, and has only recovered slowly, affecting the estimated 400,000 people working in the key sector that accounts for around seven percent of Gross Domestic Product.

I did not realize that Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia, I hadn’t much thought about it. Many North African countries rely on tourism for a significant portion of their GDP, this is important we should support the initiative with prayer and maybe even a trip to Tunis…

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