Tunisia sees 30 percent tourism growth in 2017

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2017 9:18 AM

TUNIS (Reuters) - The number of tourists traveling to Tunisia is expected to rise by about 30 percent in 2017, reversing two years of sharp drops caused by militant attacks on foreign visitors, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Tunisia's tourism sector has been struggling since two major attacks in 2015, the first at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis and the second on a beach in the resort city of Sousse.

Several European tour companies and cruise operators suspended operations following the Sousse attack.

Tunisia now anticipates a recovery, however, after pushing to improve security around tourist sites over the past two year.

"This year we expect the number of foreign tourists will grow by 30 percent compared to last year and will reach at least 6.5 million tourists, after a major decline in the two past years", Ridha Saidi, an economic advisor to the prime minister, told reporters.

Tourism Ministry officials say hotel booking rates for this summer have been rising, especially from Russia.

Tourism accounts for 8 percent of gross domestic product in Tunisia and is a key source of foreign currency and jobs.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Ed Osmond)