After going through a tough time, tourism is finally back on track in Tunisia. We've just got back, and we were very surprised to see Britons lounging around hotel resort swimming pools as they used to before the Arab uprisings. With the sun shining and unbeatable room rates, it looks like the hoteliers' efforts to kick-start tourism once again have borne their fruit.
However, tourists' return to Tunisia isn't just to do with cheap accommodation and sunshine. Since its early beginnings as a tourist hotspot, Tunisia has always managed to appeal through its value prices and good weather. What has however changed is the quality of tourism now on offer. Having turned up the quality a notch or two, tourists are giving the destination a renewed chance to shine.
Despite a betterment of local tourism infrastructure, a new problem now arises. The lack of flights to Tunisia means that the increasing demand for services to Tunisia it isn't being met. But the debate surrounding the issue isn't new. The local authorities have had the mysterious objective of prioritising Tunisair, its national airline within Tunisian skies and have gone so far as banning certain airlines from the country's airspace (like Air France and its low-cost airline, Transavia). The problem with giving this type of exclusivity to Tunisair is that the airline can shuffle prices and flight times around as it pleases - and that's exactly what it is doing.
In the meantime, hopeful hoteliers await hordes of tourists this summer with baited breath, for another quiet season will have an evident detrimental effect on the already flailing local tourism industry. However, with there being more beds available than seats on planes, a balance is going to be hard to strike.
While the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism has given Tunisair its own pedestal, the country's already fragile economy is edging towards another crash. What lurks behind this irrational sacrifice? The new government's integrity is being questioned.
On the traveller's part, the benefits of opening up the Tunsian skies to other airlines are obvious: a wider choice of services and prices. Following unanimous opposition from local hoteliers, there is hope that the situation improves. The temporary government has been in talks to reinitiate relations with Europe last week in Brussels. Mustapha Ben Jaâfar, the President of the Assemblée, was supposed to engage in these talks at the end of May - ironically though, he was unable to attend due to a last-minute Tunisair strike.
'Open skies in Tunisia' is a translation of the original version in French by Laurent Serfaty and was published on our French site on Monday 25 June.
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