Tunisia believes travel agents will help the country return to pre-pandemic visitor numbers from the UK next year.
Tunisia National Tourist Office’s deputy director general, Jamel Bouzid, said around 170,000 British visitors were welcomed between January and October this year, which is 12% down on 2019.
But Bouzid anticipates stronger numbers next year and potentially record-matching levels in 2025 or 2026.
Bouzid said: “The knowledge of travel agents is absolutely crucial to enhance sales to Tunisia.”
Tunisia’s best year for British visitors was 2014, when the total was 425,000, helped by significant numbers booked through Thomas Cook.
The majority of UK visitors continue to arrange their trips through travel agents, Bouzid said.
“That’s why the Tunisia tourist office sponsored and attended around 20 roadshows in 2023 and we met with around 600 travel agents all over the UK,” said Bouzid.
He added that the tourist office usually organises at least two fam trips annually and the expectation is that this will continue next year.
Bouzid said: “Our key message for British travel agents is to invite them to know more about Tunisia and put it on their radar.
“We want them to think about us as a first-choice destination for their clients.
“With fresh knowledge and confidence, agents can turn Tunisia from a hard sell to an easy sell if they understand what it has to offer.
“They’re most welcome to visit us to experience the product, because seeing is believing.”
The addition of new flights from the UK will see a 33% rise in air capacity in 2024, said Bouzid, bringing the number of seats to 16% above 2019 levels.
“Fingers crossed, next year we’ll exceed the visitor numbers of 2019 – the capacity is there,” said Bouzid, adding that the country will “hopefully” reach the figures achieved in 2014 in the next two or three years.
Attempts are being made to turn Tunisia into a year-round destination for British travellers.
‘The Culinary Route of Tunisia’ is among the attractions aimed at broadening the country’s appeal beyond its reputation for beach holidays.
Outlining reasons to visit, Bouzid said: “It’s a short flight of three hours from the UK. There’s lovely weather, great beachfront hotels and when you come out of the hotel you’re immediately immersed in the history and cultural heritage and, on top of that, Tunisia has a vast culinary heritage.”
Bouzid said travel agents are commonly asked whether Tunisia is a safe place to visit.
“As we speak, all hotels are fully booked so this is a sign that the country is safe,” said Bouzid, who added that the latest advice is available on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s website.
Referring to the attacks against tourists in 2015, Bouzid said: “Thanks to efforts with France, the UK and the US, we’ve improved our security since 2015. Since then, we’ve not seen any incidents against tourists in Tunisia.”
Source : TravelWeekly