While traveling Europe, I was stunned to see the degree of advertisement the Tunisian tourism office has purchased. Beyond the regular brochure at the local travel office, there are Tunisian adverts in subways and even ones covering an entire tram.
Tunisia is most advertised in Italy, the European nation closes to the nation [technically Malta is closer, but it is too small a market]. In Italy, Tunisian billboards are everywhere advertising such cities are Tabarka and Mahdia as “bella”. An entire tram in Milan was covered by such an advertisement.
Tunisia’s obvious goals is to attract more tourists to a nation that has a lot to offer but has not made the most of its assets. But is this money well-spent now?
Europe is in a recession that has turned out to be a lot worse than previously expected. Europeans are saving money and those traveling may opt out of plane ticket expense and instead go somewhere in their country or continent.
Tunisia’s well-crafted and lavishly funded advertisement may not payoff in such a climate. But that climate will not last forever. Even though waist-tight Europeans may not be keen to spend the money now, the image of Tunisia is a fun place with beautiful Mediterranean beaches is being embedded in the mindset of a many Europeans.
The public image is very helpful to Tunisia’s tourism industry. For Europeans may not have the money now, but in a few years when they do and are thinking about a vacation the idea of Tunisia may very well pop into their heads. The long-term gains to Tunisia may very well be worth such a campaign.
Tunisia needs more European tourists. The country in recent years had relied on new growth coming from Algeria. That is a bad idea and the authorities seem to realize it. Algerians are fine people, but they spend less than the average more wealthy European. Further, many Algerian scam hotels by purchasing a room for, say, 4 people and sleeping in it 10. One summer, before many Algerians started to come to Tunisia, my family and I stayed at a residence complex. It has in Hammamet Sud, by the beach and had a swimming pool. Families would recent a studio or 1,2,3,ect… “apartments” that came with living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens. My family rented such a bungalow. At the time the place was not crowded and very clean. A year or two after [I forget exactly], I returned to the place by myself because I was in the area and remembered the restaurant inside it and wanted to grab a quick bite. The place was crowded and the pool was dirty. One could tell that it was operating beyond capacity. It is uncalled for that Algerian tourists would rent a room for 4 and sleep 10 if not more. Further, it only reinforces the cruel Tunisian mocking of Algerians as uncivilized. I oppose the actions that some Algerian tourists engage in, but never resort to such bigotry.
The main problem with Algerian tourism is not that hotels operate beyond capacity per se, but that crowded affect turns-off Europeans tourists whom expect with justification better managed hotels. It becomes a zero-sum game between European and Algerian tourists. Tunisia should clearly go for the former. Algerian tourists bring very little in besides their minimal payments for hotels and foods. European tourists are bigger spenders.
If the tourism industry in Tunisia is to prosper, then it needs to attract more Europeans and shut the border down for more Algerians until those Algerians [of course not all] learn to behave like decent tourists.