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Tunisia: a grim tally for tourism in 2015

The Tunisian minister of Tourism published the sector's figures for the first eleven months of the year, presenting a significant drop in arrivals and revenues. The impact of the two terrorist attacks on the industry in the country in 2015 continued to cast a pall over tourism and hotel activities in the country.

Between January and November 2015, Tunisia lost close to two million tourists. According to the minister of tourism, 4.9 million visitors traveled to the country in that period, versus 6.7 million during the first eleven months of 2014. Revenues from the sector thus fell by 33.8%, to 2.2 billion dinars. In 2010, prior to the Arab Spring revolutions and the beginning of the Tunisian tourism crisis, the country welcomed 7.3 million tourists for 3.7 billion in revenues from the sector.

Change in monthly hotel results in Tunisia from January to November 2015

Faced with the terrorist threat and its dissuasive influence on western clientèle, hotel activity in Tunisia continues its nosedive. On the period between January and November, nights recorded at properties in the country are down by 44.7% with respect to the same period in 2014, and 54.6% in comparison to 2010. The figures were down to 15.5 million, versus 21 million the previous year and 34.1 million five years earlier. The slump in activity may also be read in figures published by MKG Hospitality that show a considerable drop in arrivals at Tunisian hotels combined with many recent closings. The occupancy rate on the sector thus fell by 12 points to less than 38.4% during the period. The 6.4% improvement in the average daily rate was not enough to compensate for the shortage of guests, so Revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell by 18.9%, compared to the previous year.

Faced with this major slowdown in activity, Tunisian hoteliers are struggling to stay afloat. The national tourist office estimates that 192 hotels were forced to close their doors in 2015, representing close to 33% of the supply. This figure is more than even half the hotel capacity at several destinations in the country, such as Monastir, Djerba and Mahdia.

Authorities in the country are expecting a difficult beginning for 2016 for Tunisian tourism. Several international operators, especially British, have not included the destination in their program for the next season. Their priority for the months to come will thus be to develop the confidence of European source markets, by concentrating their efforts on the security issues the country is dealing with.

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