In the Saharan cities of southern Tunisia, known for their culture, their traditions and their very special architectural heritage, tourism has in recent years provoked a reflexive effort around the concept of heritage, which aims to bring together the tourist offer and promote local development . .
In this regard, a debate was held on Wednesday 9 November 2022 in Tunis on Saharan and oasis tourism in Tunisia, the difficulties faced by the sector and the measures taken for its development. A first according to Tourism Minister Mohamed Moez Belhassine, who gave some details about the ongoing projects.
- GIZ, Onudi and the EU, ready to finance projects in the Sahara and the oasis
The minister spoke about three points that he considered “essential” and “urgent” to promote Saharan and oasis tourism. First, to accelerate the establishment of the air connection between Tozeur-Netta airport and international lines. Strengthening the connection between Gafsa and Gabes airports with internal lines is by far the most pressing point. “It is not possible to develop a tourist destination without access to air transport. he declared.
The minister also called on the players in the sector to work on a reform of tourism promotion in light of the upcoming festival season. According to him, it is important that the tourists can have the festival programs in advance. “Tunisia has a rich cultural heritage that should no longer be neglected. It is no longer a matter of our festivals being prepared at the last minute. He added.
In addition, Belhassine insisted on the diversification of tourist sites. Towns like Douz and Kebili have always been marginalized because they are poorly maintained. The minister stated that efforts are being made to improve these destinations and finally make them accessible to tourists.
“Financing is the key to the development of Sahara and oasis tourism in Tunisia and our partners (GIZ, EU, UNIDO) are present and mobilized to finance our projects and develop tourism in Tunisia. he concluded.
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Mehdi Haloui, director in charge of desert tourism at the National Tourist Office (ONTT), indicated that cinema plays an important role in Tunisian tourism, representing more than a third of the country’s surface and spanning 5 provinces. , namely Tozeur, Kebili, Tataouine and Gafsa and Gabes.
In an interview with Africanmanager, Haloui explained that the desert and oasis in Tunisia have cultural, historical and natural characteristics that would distinguish it from other types of traditional tourism, describing them as the main pillars for the development of this sector.
He mentioned that the desert space in Tunisia reached its peak in 2019, but could only attract 700,000 visitors, which is a low percentage compared to the total number of tourists, according to his estimates.
He stressed that accommodation is proving to be one of the biggest problems for Saharan and oasis tourism as some hotels and guesthouses do not exceed one or two nights at most, which is somewhat alarming according to him. “If we develop Sahara tourism, it will necessarily contribute to building the concept of sustainable tourism in Tunisia. he clarified.
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Furthermore, and regarding air transport issues, the official indicated that there is an energetic effort by the Ministry of Tourism with Tunisair to intensify domestic flights or with international airlines to organize direct flights to domestic airports. , as Tozeur airport. He revealed in this believe that there would be negotiations with an international company to open a direct airline between Tozeur airport and Paris.
The director of tourism in the desert pointed out that there is a committee at the level of the Ministry of Tourism to study the means of reopening and rehabilitating the tourist units that were previously closed, while encouraging new investments with a different vision that respects more the sustainable tourism concept.
Mehdi Haloui concluded that tourism from the Sahara and oasis is able to change the quality of the tourist that comes to Tunisia and that it can also extend the period of the local tourist season as it extends into the desert from December to May.