For Tunisian tourism professionals, the Covid-19 crisis is a new blow, as the sector is barely recovering from the deadly attacks in Tunis and Sousse in 2015. "We have gone through other crises before. There was the Gulf War, the terrorist attacks, but it was not a total and brutal cessation of activity, explains Houssem Ben Azouz, president of the Interprofessional Federation of Tunisian Tourism. possibility of resumption. While there we have no visibility at all, we do not know how long it will last. It will depend on when the flights will resume. Sometimes we talk about July, August, September, we don't know. To be realistic, 2020 is lost, we think a lot more about 2021. "
"We would have liked to postpone the tax and social deadlines"
In Tunisia, the tourism sector represents around 10% of gross domestic product. The majority of tourists come from the Maghreb and Europe (France, Germany, Italy). Due to the health crisis, the Tunisian authorities estimate the sector's losses at 1.3 billion euros. 400,000 direct and indirect jobs would be threatened.
Many businesses are short of cash and may be out of business. Faced with this exceptional situation, tourism professionals ask the State for financial assistance. "We would have liked to postpone the tax, social, etc. deadlines, explains Houssem Ben Azouz. It was not granted. The idea which is still advancing and for which we are rather optimistic, is is that the state set up a line of credit, specific to the tourism sector, hotels and restaurants. "
Restaurants and hotels are expected to reopen at the end of May with strict sanitation procedures. Local customers should return. But as long as the flights to Tunisia are stalled, the future remains very uncertain.
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