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Tunisia's tourism slow to recover

Friday, August 19, 2011 - 01:43

Aug. 19 - The tourism industry in Tunisia is still reeling from the revolution that toppled the country's president at the beginning of the year, leaving thousands unemployed. Hayley Platt reports.

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Tunisia's golden beaches once packed with tourists - now deserted. Seven months after protesters ousted Tunisia's president some fear the country is now paying a hefty price for its revolution. Business is quiet and bookings are down 85% says Tunisia's minister for tourism. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TUNISIAN TOURISM MINISTER, MEHDI HAWWAS, SAYING: "Obviously the 2011 tourist year took a knock. After the revolution at the beginning of the year, the type of client who usually comes to Tunisia, families, who book early for their holidays in January, February, March, naturally we lost all of that group of clients." Tourism is key to Tunisia's economy and an important source of jobs. 1 in 5 are employed by the industry but official figures for the first half of the year show profits were down by half. Many hotels say they are being forced to cut prices to drum up business. Something these tourists are taking advantage of. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TOURIST FROM BELGIUM, SAYING: "For me, Tunisia's the best destination because of the warm reception we get, and the best thing is they speak French, which for us is a big advantage compared to English, so it's a good place to go." (SOUNDBITE) (French) TOURIST FROM FRANCE, SAYING: "It might not be the most interesting thing, but for us it's a cheaper country to go to. Of course it's unfortunate for them though." Although tourists are slowly returning to what is considered North Africa's leading tourist destination, it could take some time before numbers fully return to their former highs. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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Tunisia's tourism slow to recover

Friday, August 19, 2011 - 01:43