By Ogova Ondego and Forimmediaterelease.net
Published June 7, 2011
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Tunisian government have signed a partnership agreement under which UNWTO will support the country’s tourism development. Policy guidance, marketing, and training for the tourism workforce are among the planned areas of cooperation.
UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said the partnership would contribute to help accelerate the return of international tourists to Tunisia in the short-term, where tourism represents nearly 14% of the country’s GDP and accounts for 450,000 jobs, and in the medium-term, would support the improved competitiveness of the destination.
“International tourists are gradually returning to Tunisia,” said Mr. Rifai at the signing of the agreement, “As they do so, UNWTO will be providing Tunisia with technical support and assistance to sustainably reinforce this tourism recovery, one of the country’s principal sources of income, jobs, and development.”
Under the agreement signed by Rifai and Mehdi Houas, the Minister for Tourism of Tunisia, NWTO will provide Tunisia with up-to-date market intelligence on tourism movements and trends, as well as guidance on tourism policy. Local officials will be trained on the latest marketing tools and strategies available to reposition Tunisia among the world’s leading destinations. UNWTO will also asses the country’s tourism education and training needs, linking Tunisian tourism institutions with UNWTO-certified universities around the world.
UNWTO and the Tunisian government further agree to organise a regional conference in Djerba on competitiveness and sustainability criteria for tourism destinations and a UNWTO training workshop on quality and classification systems of tourism accommodation units.
In 2010, Tunisia received nearly 7 million international tourist arrivals, generating nearly US$3 billion in export revenues. During the first 3 months of 2011, international tourist arrivals decreased by 44% and receipts by 43%.
According to Tunisian government records, the North African country’s tourism revenues dropped 50% between January and May following the revolution of January 14,2011.
Tunisia receives 1.5 million Algerian visitors and 2 million Libyan tourists every year, but the war in Libya is causing these numbers to fall drastically.
With the dust still settling from the revolution that ousted president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali and the ongoing massacres in Libya at its borders, Tunisia presents a tough environment for investors.
Meanwhile Tourism-Review.Com reports that Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama has discovered 17 previously unknown underground pyramids, 1,000 tombs and 3,000 settlements dating back some 3,000 years in Egypt whose tourism has hit rock bottom following political unrest that swept President Hosni Mubarak from power and plunged the country into economic uncertainty.
Dr Parcak, a US Egyptologist, made the discovery in Saqqara, Egypt using infra-red images acquired by satellites orbiting 400 miles above the earth.
Hopefully visitors will stream back to Egypt following the discovery and the opening up to the public of some previously inaccessible sites, such as seven tombs of leading retainers of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Tourism accounts for almost 11% of the country’s income.