How Tunisian Tourism Is Moving Beyond Bardo Attacks
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In the wake of last month's museum attack that killed 21 foreign tourists, Tunisia is eyeing improved security measures along with a revamped ad campaign in an effort to salvage the upcoming summer tourism season, according to Kaouther Larbi of the AFP.
Recently, Tunisian Tourism Minister Salma Rekik announced that security would be enhanced at popular tourist sites as well as along routes to those sites. The reinforced protection will be extended to airports and other transportation means as well.
The site of March 18's attack, the National Bardo Museum, was reopened late last month.
In addition to the pumped-up security presence there and other places, the country's tourism department has launched a new campaign featuring the hashtag #TUNISIAILLBETHERE.
The campaign features countless posters as well as an accompanying website portraying happy travelers. The posters can be found printed in various languages across Europe, including France, which is Tunisia's No. 1 source of tourism.
Some celebrities have also chipped in to boost the campaign.
But while last month's deadly attack has all but ensured a disappointing summer season for the country's tourism sector, expectations were already mild considering the industry is still reeling from 2011's Tunisian revolution.
"It's difficult to be optimistic for the tourist season, but we will try to save the situation somewhat," said Tunisian Hotel Federation president Radhouane Ben Salah via the AFP. "The most worrying thing is the halt to reservations for the summer."
According to the National Union of Travel Agencies, bookings have dropped off a remarkable 60 percent since the museum attack compared to the same time last year.
Tourism accounts for roughly seven percent of Tunisia's economy, so a lackluster summer season is likely to deal the country a significant blow.
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