Tourism in Tunisia

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Among Tunisia's tourist attractions are its cosmopolitan capital city of Tunis, the ancient ruins of Carthage, the Muslim and Jewish quarters of Jerba, and coastal resorts outside of Monastir. According to The New York Times, Tunisia is "known for its golden beaches, sunny weather and affordable luxuries."1


According to Garrett Nagle in his book Advanced Geography, Tunisia's tourist industry "benefits from its Mediterranean location and its tradition of low cost package holidays from Western Europe."2 The development of tourism dates back to 1960 through the joint efforts of government and private groups. In 1962, tourism, with 52,000 entries and 4,000 beds, had a revenue of two million dollars and becomes the main source of foreign exchange in the country.3 However, it is not popular with American tourists who are wary of Middle East destinations since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.2 Until recently, Tunisia's main attraction was on its northeast coastline around Tunis; however, the Seventh National Development Plan of 1989 created several new tourist areas including the resort at Port-el-Kantaoui.2 The tourism sector now represents 6.5% of Tunisia's GDP and provides 340,000 jobs of which 85,000 are direct jobs, or 11.5% of the working population with a high share of seasonal employment. France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are the four traditional tourist markets, though Tunisia lost roughly 500,000 tourists from Germany after 9/11.4 From 2003-2004, it regained tourists, and 2007 saw arrivals increasing by 3 percent over that of 2006.4


The souk in Tunis.


The Maghreb ( Arabic: المغرب, al-Maghrib, is usually defined as much or most of the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. The traditional definition as being the region including the Atlas Mountains and the coastal plains of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, was later superseded, especially since the 1989 formation of the Arab Maghreb Union, by the inclusion of a fifth nation, and of the disputed territory of Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco). During the Al-Andalus era in Spain, the Maghreb's inhabitants, Maghrebis, were known as "Moors";[1] the Muslim areas of Spain in those times were usually included in contemporary definitions of the Maghreb—hence the use of 'Moor' or 'Moors' to describe the Muslim inhabitants of Spain by Christian and other Western sources. Historical terms for the region or various portions of it include Numidia, Libya, and Africa in classical antiquity. The term maghrib is in origin an Arabic word for "west, occident", denoting the westernmost territories that fell to the Islamic conquests of the 7th century.[2] Today, it is used as a proper noun denoting the Maghreb, also known as المغرب العربي al-maghrib al-ʻarabīy "the Arab Maghreb" or المغرب الكبير al-maghrib al-kabīr "the great Maghreb" in Arabic. The definite form al-maghrib is used for the country of Morocco in particular. The Berber language's alternative term for the region, Tamazgha (meaning: land of the Berbers),[3] has been popularized by Berber activists since the second half of the 20th century. Before the establishment of modern nation states in the region during the mid-20th century, Maghreb most-commonly referred to a smaller area between the Atlas Mountains in the south and the Mediterranean Sea, often also including eastern Libya, but not modern Mauritania. As recently as the late 19th century it was used to refer to the Western Mediterranean region of coastal North Africa in general, and to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in particular.[2] Partially isolated from the rest of the continent by the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert, inhabitants of the northern parts of the Maghreb have long had commercial and cultural ties to the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries of Southern Europe and Western Asia, going back at least to the Phoenicians in the 1st millennium BC (the Phoenician colony of Carthage having been founded, according to tradition, in what is now Tunisia circa 800 BC). The region was somewhat unified as an independent political entity during the rule of the Berber kingdom of Numidia, which was followed by Roman Empire's rule or influence. That was followed by the brief invasion of the Germanic Vandals, the equally brief re-establishment of a weak Byzantine rule by the Byzantine Empire, the rule of the Islamic Caliphates under the Umayyads, the Abbasids, and the Fatimids. The most enduring rule was that of the local Berber Muslim empires of Almoravids, Almohads, Hammadids, Zirids, Marinids, Wattasids (to name some of those among the most prominent) during the 8th to 13th centuries. The Ottoman Turks ruled the region as well. The five modern states of North Africa established the Maghreb Union in 1989 to promote cooperation and economic integration in a common market. It was envisioned initially by Muammar Gaddafi as an Arab superstate, ignoring the Berber identity of most North Africans. The union included Western Sahara implicitly under Morocco's membership,[4] putting Morocco's long cold war with Algeria to a rest. However, this progress was short-lived, and the union is now frozen. Tensions between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara re-emerged strongly, reinforced by the unsolved borderline issue between the two countries. These two main conflicts have hindered progress on the union's joint goals and practically made it inactive as a whole.- thom collegiate, Grade 10 5/17/2013.

Many ports along the Maghreb coast were occupied or constructed by the Phoenicians, then the Carthaginians, whose main settlements along the North African littoral between the Pillars of Hercules and the Libyan coast east of ancient Cyrenaica, centered in the Gulf of Tunis (Carthage, Utica, Tunisia) dominated the trade and intercourse of the Western Mediterranean for centuries. With its defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars—greatly helped by the defection of the Carthaginian's eastern Numidian Massylii client-allies under their King Massinissa to the Roman cause in 206 BC—Rome took over many of these ports, and ultimately it took control of the entire Maghreb north of the Atlas Mountains. Remaining outside its control were only some of the most mountainous regions like the Moroccan Rif. With the 5th Century AD fall of the Western Roman Empire as a result of the pressures of the Barbarian invasions, the Vandals, crossing over from Spain, overran much of the Roman province of Africa, establishing the short-lived Vandal Kingdom with its capital at Carthage in 430 AD. A century later, the Byzantine emperor Justinian I sent a force under his general Belisarius, which, contrary to contemporary expectations, succeeded in destroying the Vandal kingdom; Byzantine rule lasted one and a half century more, increasingly contested by the Berbers and, after the 640s AD, by the coming of the Arabs, who finally secure control over the entire region by 700.


This sector is popular mainly on the east coast, totaling more than 95% of beds. The following is a list of the largest resorts and the percentage of nights out of the total:

New developments

In recent years, ecotourism, spa and medical tourism are emerging into Tunisia's tourist scene and growing very fast. According to the former Minister of Tourism thanks to the sahel (sousse monastir mahdia) Ahmed Smaou, "The medical tourism has a great future ahead of us."5 Tourists must have a visa.6


In 2000, there were 197,400 hotel beds in roughly 95,977 rooms with an occupancy rate at 56%.6 5,057,193 travellers came to Tunisia that year.6 That year, tourist expenditures were nearly $1.5 billion.6 According to 2002 US Department of State estimates, the average daily cost of staying in Tunis or Carthage was $146, compared to $114 in other areas of Tunisia.6

A large number of tourists to Tunisia come from Eastern Europe, and the nationalities of major tourist countries is shown here: Libyans (1,472,411 visitors), French (1,234,735), Algerians (945,324), Germans (547,403), Italians (464,323) and British (350,693).3 There were 1,251,251 domestic tourists staying across the country for 2.75 million nights in 2006.7

See also


  1. ^ Elaine Glusac (22 November 2009). "A Night, and Day, In Tunisia at a New Resort". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c Nagle, Garrett (2000). Advanced geography. Oxford University Press. pp. p.417. ISBN 0199134073. 
  3. ^ a b (French) Bouamoud, Mohamed (2007-11-12). "Radioscopie du tourisme tunisien 2003-2006". Webmanagercenter. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  4. ^ a b Heyer, Hazel (2008-03-12). "Tunisia tourism moves forward by sticking to the old". eTN. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  5. ^ (French) Hoorman, Chloé (2005-01-10). "Le grand bain de la mondialisation". L’Express. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Tunisia: Tourism, travel, and recreation". Nations Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  7. ^ (French) Skander, Galia (2007-12-25). "Le tourisme intérieur : un vrai potentiel négligé". Tunisie Affaire. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 

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