Tourism comeback as Germans return

Tunisia is making a clear comeback on the German market this year but safety remains a key issue.

May 30, 2017
Djerba is popular again for German holidaymakers.
Photo: Thinkstock

The North African country is more optimistic about its tourism prospects than for quite some time. International visitors are returning to Tunisia, with a 47% increase to 1.3 million in the first four months of this year. The German market is also performing well, with a 27% rise to nearly 32,000 between January and April.

“We expect growth of about 25% from the German market this year,” said a confident Riadh Dekhili, Germany director of the Tunisian tourist board. “Golfers and senior citizens have definitely returned, but families and young couples, too.” Individual travellers are also discovering the North African destination, “especially Tunis, which is turning into a hip city”, he claimed. Djerba, in particular, is seeing an upward trend, he added.

German tour operators confirmed this year’s recovery in demand. TUI has “high growth rates” for Tunisia, said Florian Fleischer, product manager for North Africa. The tour operator will have two weekly full charters with Tunisair again this summer. In addition, the group will open two new Sensimar hotels, targeted at couples, in Hammamet and Sousse this summer. Overall, TUI will offer about 230 hotels in Tunisia. “The country is among the medium-haul destinations with the highest customer satisfaction rates,” Fleischer pointed out.

FTI is seeing extremely high demand for Tunisia, where it has 150 hotels in its programme this summer. Elia Gad, Group Head of Destination Orient and Middle East, said that bookings are up “by a triple-digit percentage increase”. He expects strong last-minute sales for the destination. “We are increasing our flight capacity accordingly.” The Munich-based tour operator will add 9,000 additional seats to Hammamet, Sousse and Djerba, and offer a total of 30 weekly flights to Tunisia this summer, a double-digit increase on last year.

Not everyone believes in a late sales surge, however. TUI’s Fleischer said there are “more long-term bookings again at present”, while Schauinsland-Reisen, with more than 100 hotels in its programme, referred to “normal” last-minute sales.

Nevertheless, the issue of safety and security remains a top priority. The German foreign ministry officially advises travellers that “in Tunisia there is still an increased risk of terrorist attacks”. Fleischer commented: “Although Tunisia has regained a certain amount of confidence, the security advice is an obstacle for some holidaymakers.” And FTI’s Gad admitted that “there is a more intensive need for advice for some FTI customers”.

The Tunisian tourist board emphasises that the government “has strengthened security measures in the whole country, and especially in tourist regions, after the attacks in 2015”. A comprehensive package of legal security regulations for hotels, tourist facilities and transportation has been introduced since the end of 2015, and a 168-strong team of specially-trained inspectors regularly checks that these regulations are being observed.

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