COVID-19 IMPACT: Major Damage to Tunisian Economy

Tunisia Security Update

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Article Analysis:

Coronavirus may cause 400,000 travel-related job losses in Tunisia”-Published date: 15 April 2020 

Tunisia forecasts $1.4bn-loss in revenue in tourism sector over Coronavirus pandemic

3-Quick Key INSIGHTS:

  • Estimates project Tunisian economy will lose $1.4bn tourism revenue.

  • Tunisia has recorded a total of 747 cases of the virus and 34.

  • To mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic, Tunisia is seeking to secure a loan up to $877m (Source:  North African Post)

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What’s going ON?

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated Tunisia’s tourism industry, with the vital sector expected to see 400,000 people lose their jobs this year and $1.4bn in lost revenue.

Like many countries across the globe, Tunisia has been under lockdown for weeks, with most residents only leaving their homes for exercise, grocery shopping and pharmacy runs.


Economic Challenges Ahead…

But as the second-biggest contributor to the country’s economy after agriculture, the tourism industry has almost completely shut down. Restaurants have closed, as have hotels and land borders, and international flights have been banned.

Tourist arrivals fell from over 7 million in 2010 to 5 million by 2015. But the number of visitors rose to 8.3 million in 2018, a 17 percent increase from 2017

Tourist arrivals fell from over 7 million in 2010 to 5 million by 2015. But the number of visitors rose to 8.3 million in 2018, a 17 percent increase from 2017

Now, under the pandemic, that number is expected to plummet.

Tunisia has recorded a total of 747 cases of the virus and 34 coronavirus-related deaths. So far, 43 people have recovered from the infection.

Tunisia’s number of cases falls well below neighbouring Algeria, which has reported 2,160 cases and 336 deaths, highlighting the need to ban tourism in order to slow the spread, as tourists from Algeria, Russia and the EU make up a large portion of the country’s yearly visitors.

Security Bottom Line

In a report released on Wednesday, the IMF said in general, economies across the Middle East and North Africa are expected to shrink by 3.3 percent during 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for Tunisia.  Having just completed a complicated election cycle, the country was looking forward to a much needed successful tourism season.

At the time of this writing both the U.S. and UK embassies advises against all but essential international travel.

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Tunisia had a successful summer season…

As several media outlets publish pictures of “eerie abandoned hotels”…Tunisia hopes to continue making posting tourism gains.

Tunisia’s Tourism Revenues Grow 42% in 7 Months

The Tunisian Tourism Ministry said that 4.4 million foreign tourists visited the country from January 1 through July 31 this year, up 23% compared with the same period in 2017.

The minister added that revenues from the tourism sector reached 1.7 billion Tunisian dinars (about 554 million euros), up 42% on the same period last year.

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According to the minister’s estimate, at the end of the year, a total of over 8 million tourists will visit Tunisia. A reported 7 million visited in 2017 and 6 million in 2016.

The tourism sector in Tunisia is in progress towards rebalancing.

Media Posts Negative Pictures…

Recently, several media outlets including The Sun, Daily Mail, Mirror and others have published pictures showcasing some Tunisian hotels that went out of business after the 2015, Sousse attack.

Here are a few examples:  

Swimming pools are now filled with dust, but used to be packed with tourists sunbathing IMAGE: CATERS NEWS AGENCY
An empty indoor pool. Picture: Bob Thissen/Caters News AgencySource:Caters News Agency

Tunisia has come a long way since the 2015 Sousse attacks! 

@DavidSecurity’s Perspective…

Tunisian tourism was strongly affected by terrorist operations in 2015, in which a tourist hotel was attacked in Sousse (west the Tunisian capital) leading to the death of 22 foreign tourists.

Tunisian Security Forces have proven effective and their efforts have paid off in many ways.  Most importantly is their ability to foil plots that have prevented other incidents from taking place in the country.

This relative peace & stability has enabled other countries to either remove or relax their travel warnings/advise thus essentially providing foreigners a “green light” to visit.

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