WTM 2018: Tunisia tourism ‘back on track’ as visitor numbers surge

UK visitor numbers to Tunisia are expected to smash original targets by the end of the year.

Around 100,000 Brits had visited the destination by September, surpassing an annual target of 85,000. It is expected the total number will reach up to 120,000 by the end of the year.

Visitor numbers are expected to return to its peak of 440,000 – the number it achieved prior to the Sousse terror attack – within the next four years.

Thomas Cook and Tui reintroduced programmes to the north African country earlier this year after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) softened its travel advice in 2017.

Previously the FCO had advised against all travel to Tunisia following a mass terror attack in Sousse in 2015, which saw thirty British holidaymakers killed.

Director of the Tunisian National Tourist Office, UK and Ireland, Wahida Jaiet said: “Cook and Tui have been the driving force on this (growth). For 2018 we went beyond original estimates of 85,000 and already recorded 100,000 visitors by September. By the end of the year we expect between 110,000 and 120,000 visitors.

“The good news is that both operators have increased capacity for 2019 and there will be more flights from more regional airports in the UK.”

This year there are 17 flights a week from the UK to Tunisia which will increase to 38 in 2019.

“I am ambitious and I like challenges,” Jaiet said. “But everyone has to play their role. Tunisia is back on track and back in business. How long it will take to get back to 440,000 visitors – it’s difficult to say. Next year, no but I think in the next three to four.”

She said the tourism office was meeting with easyJet this week and hoped the budget airline would start flying to the destination in the future.

Asked how secure Tunisia was following the Sousse and other terror attacks, Jaiet said: “There is not a country in the world that is 100% zero risk.

“But we have implemented security measures and controls – check points, metal detectors. We also have a great relationship with the FCO. We regularly have people trained and assessed by UK experts.”

The Travel Weekly team is reporting extensively from this year’s World Travel Market, stay up to date on our live blog and  event microsite

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