Tunisia expects UK visitor numbers to reach at least 200,000 by the end of this year – up from 124,000 in 2018 – according to the tourist board’s UK boss.
In 2017 – the year the FCO softened its travel advice two years after the Sousse beach terrorist attack that saw 30 British tourists killed – there were around 27,000 UK visitors.
Tui has since added an extra 37,000 seats for summer 2019 on flights from across the UK. There are now 38 flights a week from the UK to Tunisia, up from 17 a week last year.
Speaking at Antor Meets the Travel Trade event, Wahida Jaiet, director of the Tunisian National Tourist Office UK and Ireland, told Travel Weekly: “Our target for the UK market this year is 200,000 minimum. I am very confident we will achieve this, on the basis of actual capacity, bookings and enquiries.
“We’ve already recorded 80,000 UK arrivals for this year (January to June), and we expect the launch of the peak season in July to boost that further. In a month’s time I might tell you that our target for the year has been increased to 210,000 or even 220,000.”
“If we hit the 200,000 target this year, we’d be looking to target around 280,000 in 2020.
“The UK is a traditional market for Tunisia – it’s not new – and it’s very important for us to have that market back.
“There have been lots of improvement security-wise, and there seems to be a real revival of interest in the destination. There are some big hotel projects happening in the south, especially on the island of Djerba, and we’re focusing on small, boutique hotels offering a genuine, authentic experience.”
Jaiet said she expects UK visitor numbers to return to a peak of 440,000 which it recorded in 2014, within the next three to four years.
Globally, the Tunisian government is targeting nine million visitors for 2019, up from around 7.4 million in 2018, according to Jaiet.