The Tunisian authorities aspire to raise the number of Algerian tourists to 3 million, after last year’s record number of 2.5 million, the highest since the 2011 revolution.
Tunisian Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi said that there have been “very positive” indicators since the beginning of the current year. In statements to Al-Chourouk, she explained that “We have to make sure that when the Algerian people come to Tunisia, we make them feel as if they were at home and not in a foreign country. There are several options for them. There are also various tourist attractions, including mountains, deserts and beaches.”
“We hope there will be an increase in the number of Algerian tourists. Last year, we achieved 2.5 million visitors, and we hope to exceed this number to reach 3 million visitors. For this purpose, we have introduced several measures in favour of the Algerian people, especially at border crossings between the two countries. We have also worked on improving the service industry and comfort locations at the crossings. We will also contact the owners of lodges and hotels to offer well studied prices our brothers coming from Algeria.”
Al-Chourouk asked the Tunisian minister about security concerns and the measures the authorities have taken to secure tourists. Elloumi replied “There is a great work that has been carried out in the security field. There is no tourism or investment without security. I would like to inform you that there are several decisions that have been taken in order to make sure that the Tunisian destination becomes safe… It is true that there are risks that threaten it, but this is not only in Tunisia, it is all over the world.”
Al-Chourouk has noticed a considerable security presence in the capital Tunis and the two coastal towns of Hammamet and Sousse, including the police, the intervention units, the tourist security and the National Guard, a similar body to the gendarmerie under the tutelage of the Ministry of the Interior. A security official, who refused to be named, commented: “Tunisia has witnessed terrorist acts that have targeted the tourism sector. Therefore, we have taken very strict measures, including the deployment of a considerable number of uniformed security officers, and others in civilian clothes. We take into account not bothering tourists, and in return we provide them with maximum protection. It is also decided to install scanners at hotel entrances and to install security cameras.”
A great leap has been recorded in the number of Algerians who have come to Tunisia in recent years, from 300 thousand tourists to 2.5 million tourists a year. Ahmed Ouyahia, Prime Minister of Algeria, was “surprised” by this number. A while ago, he said: “I do not know why Algerians go to Tunisia to spend their holidays.”
Al-Chourouk has raised this concern to the founder of Tunisia Tourism Exhibition, Afif Kushk. He answered by saying:
In my opinion, the large increase of Algerian tourists in Tunisia is linked to objective factors, the first of which is that the Algerian people find it relaxing to be here in Tunisia.
The second factor is the proximity and geographical borders. Among the important factors are the adopted prices in hotels, hostels and accommodation, they are very encouraging, whether the tourist is on his own or with his family.
Added to that, Tunisian tourism make a great effort to advertise and promote in the Algerian media, or to invite tourist agencies and tour operators. Tunisia is carrying out an integrated strategy with the Algerian market, which we consider is as important as the German and British markets.
Algerians are our top priority
The head of the Research and Development Directorate in Northern Sousse, Habib Ammar revealed that a meeting was held a week ago that was aimed at studying the Algerian market. The interviewee told Al-Chourouk that “We consider the Algerian tourist as a Tunisian tourist. The holding of meeting to discuss the Algerian market is a proof that it is a strategic market for us. We have been discussing with the National University of the hostel and the Tunisian National Tourism Office on how to attract the largest number of Algerian tourists, especially outside the summer peak season. The Regional Tourism Office of Sousse has been assigned to prepare a set of suggestions.”
From his part, the regional representative of tourism in Sousse, Bassam Al-Wertani, told Al-Chourouk that as part of its implementation of the directives of the political leadership in the country, which stressed the need that Algerian tourists be a top priority, and denied information indicating Tunisia’s orientation to its conventional markets as is the case with the German and British markets, especially after the huge British travel agency Thomas Cook resumed its activities in Tunisia after a break of more than two years. Al-Wertani stated “There is a plan of action for the benefit of Algerians, especially in relation to services and prices. Special offers will be made for retirees, especially in the summer vacation, in addition to raising the number of air travels to and from Tunisia.
Bank credit card and 20 per cent reductions in medical clinics
An Algerian private operator has signed an agreement with the Tunisian Post allowing Algerians living inside or outside the country to obtain a bank credit card which would be operative across Tunisian territory. Its holder benefits from reductions of up to 20 per cent at a number of Tunisian medical clinics.
The owner of the project, Rafiq Bustanji, explained that the new credit card could be requested from the website of the company, RAFIKNI, provided that they pay an amount of money in euros to fill the credit at the level of Tunisian post offices located at the border crossings. The credit card holders can then use it in payments at hotels, restaurants or all the locations that accept dealing with credit cards, with the possibility of redeeming the deposited amount of money that was not consumed during the period of stay in Tunisia, with the benefit of not charging service fees when paying, in contrast to other bank credit cards.