Attacks cause closure of 70 Tunisian hotels

  • 19/10/2015
Tunisian soldiers and police patrol the area of Mount Salloum (Reuters file)
Tunisian soldiers and police patrol the area of Mount Salloum (Reuters file)

At least 70 hotels have closed in Tunisia since September after two deadly jihadist attacks on foreign tourists, and more are expected to follow suit.

"The situation is very sluggish," Radhouane Ben Salah, the head the Tunisian Federation of Hotels, told private Mosaique FM radio on Sunday.

With reservations at "no more than 20 per cent, 70 hotels had to close since September because the lack of clients and more are expected to do the same," he added.

Ben Salah said he expected unemployment to climb as hotel staff would be forced out of work.

Joblessness already stands at nearly 30 per cent, with the number even higher among youths, and one in six Tunisians lives below the poverty line.

The country's key tourism sector contributes to 10 per cent of gross domestic product, and employs 400,000 people, directly or indirectly.

But it has been badly shaken by attacks on foreign tourists at the National Bardo Museum in the capital in March and a beachside massacre near the coastal city of Sousse in June.

The attacks, claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group, cost the lives of 22 and 38 respectively.

The number of visitors from Europe have halved since January, and international hotel chains have announced plans to close over the winter season.

Several countries evacuated their citizens from Tunisia after the beachside massacre in June and others, including Britain, have warned against travel to the North African nation.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed in June near Sousse were British.

Tunisia's economy has remained stagnant since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The finance ministry has forecast economic growth of just 0.5 per cent this year, representing half the rate for last year.