Tunisia: tourism is doing well, but the population is suffering

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The Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Mohamed Moez Belhassine, announced in early August that Tunisia welcomed more than 5 million tourists until the end of July 2023. This corresponds to an increase of 70% compared to 2022, adding that these figures are close to those recorded in 2019 before the health crisis.

The need to improve the quality of the tourist offer

The new Prime Minister, Ahmed Hachani, took note, during his meeting with the Minister of Tourism, Mohamed Moez Belhassine, of the positive figures in the tourism sector and praised the efforts made by all stakeholders.

He also called for all measures to be taken to improve the quality of the tourism product, according to a press release from the Prime Ministry.

Some hotels continue to offer poor customer service.

Prime Minister abruptly dismissed from office

President Kais Saied dismissed Prime Minister Najla Bouden, the first woman to head a government in Tunisia, in early August.

President Saied immediately appointed Ahmed Hachani, who until now had worked as director general of the Central Bank, in his place. He studied law at the University of Tunis, where Saied taught.

A rescue plan that remains suspended

The much-needed $1.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund is on hold. Subsidized basic products like milk and butter are hard to find. The bakers’ revolt was only recently calmed after the government reinstated flour subsidies. Although Kais Saied remains popular, his support appears to be fading as disenchantment grows.

Fear of speaking

Human rights activists say recent months have seen freedoms rolled back and point to the arrest of journalists, activists and political opponents, including Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s once-powerful Islamist party Ennahdha. Self-censorship, prevalent before the 2011 revolution, is also making a comeback, critics say.

“For two years, we have seen the dismantling of the rule of law and attacks against critics and opponents,” said Salsabil Chellali, director of Human Rights Watch in Tunisia.

Even more difficult months await Tunisia

Negotiations remain on hold with the IMF, whose bailout plan would force Tunisia to take unpopular steps such as phasing out commodity subsidies and dismantling struggling state-owned enterprises. Saied rejected “diktats”, suggesting that cutting subsidies could spark unrest.

Catherine Mills Avatar