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Attack at the Bardo Museum: Tunisia receives blow to the heart of its tourism industry

Tourism has once again been the target of international terrorism in the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis March 18, 2015. In addition to the human drama and collective trauma, Tunisia is concerned about the economic repercussions of this event just when tourism, an essential business in the country, had (finally) begun its recovery a few months ago.

International terrorism is once again made global headlines following the attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis where 22 were killed according to the latest information. It serves as a reminder that terrorists like to focus on tourism, an industry that is emblematic of exchange and openness (read our editorial). Thus, after the repercussions of the assassination of Hervé Gourdel (read our article), the attacks at "Charlie Hebdo" and in the days that followed (read our analysis of the impact), this is another blow to the tourism market, this time in already strugglingTunisia.

The event is all the more damaging since tourism had just begun a significant rebound in the country:

On the whole of 2014 the revenue per available room (RevPAR) at Tunisian hotels had increased by +8.5%, and January 2015 offered room for hope that this positive trend would continue (+4.5% RevPAR). Tunisia was thus hit just when the sector's professionals were regaining hope, and believing in a rapid return from darker times. In fact the rebound being felt in recent months must not make us forget that the Tunisian market continues to suffer, with performance levels that remain far from the standards that the country recorded just a few years ago, prior to the beginning of the Arab Spring. The impact of the attack should be felt in the coming days and weeks. Indeed, Costa Cruises and MSC have already announced that their ships would no longer stops in Tunis until further notice.

Despite being adapted to hosting international clients and offering an attractive product (albeit sometimes worse for the wear due to low revenues making it difficult to invest), Tunisian hotels once again posted an occupancy rate below 50% in 2014. The room rate was lower than $45 on average, even at international hotels...

Considering the importance of tourism for Tunisia's economy, its revival is undoubtedly an essential motor for the country's economic recovery. This new tragedy is likely to slow it down for a few more months.

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