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Tourists are back in Tunisia. The number of visitors is expected to exceed 9 million this year. The seaside resorts are full of holidaymakers, but Tunisians only benefit moderately because the country always relies on mass tourism at discounted prices, which is not very profitable for the country. Analysis.

Has tourism definitely returned to Tunisia? Elyes Besbes wants to believe in it. The French are there, the English are coming back. The Germans are still waiting a bit. Our European clientele is, globally, increasingly present. This is probably the end of difficult times. The climate is changing,” says the sales manager of four hotels in Sousse. The numbers are encouraging. The number of tourists could exceed 9 million this year after a very positive 2018. A first for post-Ben Ali Tunisia.

Russian, Algerian and Libyan tourists

For many weeks, it became impossible to fill the hotels, such as, for example, the 1200 beds of the four establishments of the hotel group of Elyes Besbes in Sousse.

The Europeans are leaving Tunisia. We have to find new customers to save the hotel infrastructure. The arrival of the Russians and the presence of the Algerians allowed us to stay afloat. The Russians fled Turkey due to tensions between Erdogan and Putin in 2015. They also left Egypt, which was considered unsafe for them. We took that opportunity and we attracted the Russians by lowering the prices. It is a clientele for whom the price factor is an essential factor. Algerians travel with their families and prefer to rent apartments. So we also broke the prices to attract them and changed the configuration of our rooms,” says Elyes Besbes, commercial director.

Algeria has a middle class that has a little money and enjoys spending their holidays in Tunisia. Algeria has very few hotels and tourism infrastructures. Where to spend your holidays? Tunisia is close and it is easy to stay there», confirms Jean-Yves Moisseron, editor-in-chief of the Maghreb-Machrek magazine.

The added value of the tourist offer is mainly taken up by foreign tour operators.

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