Tourism minister says Tunisia is safe

'No risk of terrorism', says Rekik

17 March, 17:41

    (by Francesco Nuccio) (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, MARCH 17 - Tourism minister Selma Elluni Rekik told ANSA on Tuesday that Tunisia is entirely safe for visitors. She denied reports of terrorism-linked risks in the country and said that videos that had circulated online were false. ''Of course the situation in Libya,'' she told ANSA, ''does not help, as is always the case when there are problems in neighboring countries. However, our borders are absolutely impermeable to any infiltration attempt. There is no security problem in Tunisia. Everything is under control.'' Reassurances from the minister are corroborated by a massive security presence and youths crowding the capital's nightclubs - youths who were the leading players in the Jasmine Revolution, which culminated in the January 2011 fall of the Ben Ali regime.

    With the launch of a new Constitution, the first democratic elections and the creation of a coalition government that intends to lead the country for the next five years, Tunisia is today one of the most politically stable countries in North Africa. ''Our message,'' the minister said, ''concerns the economy and not only tourism. We must give confidence to foreign entrepreneurs who want to invest in Tunisia.'' Rekik is one of the symbols of this ''new direction''. A successful executive in the agriculture and food sector, at the head of the labor ministry and professional training prior to tourism, she is one of the eight women in the government under Habib Essid. ''Women in Tunisia,'' she said, ''have had an important role both before the revolution and after it, as shown by the Statue that enshrined equality with men, promulgated by Bourghiba in 1956. Women account for 33% of MPs.'' On the relaunch of tourism in Tunisia, the minister has clear ideas.

    ''Up until now,'' she said ''80% of our market targeted seaside tourism. We now want to focus also on cultural tourism, valorizing our archaeological sites like Carthage, El Jam and the Bardo Museum, where the richest collection of Roman mosaics in the world is kept. We want to promote golf and Thalassotherapy, in which we are the second top in the world after France, and we intend to develop Saharan tourism in the internal areas of the country.'' To achieve these objectives, the minister said it was necessary to ''improve quality, strengthen air and sea transport and increase tourism options''. An important event will be Expo Milano 2015. ''On May 27,'' the minister said, ''there will be Tunisia Day, with the presence in Milan of the country's institutional and political leaders. It will be a chance to present our tourism options as well as our gastronomic products.'' The data on visitors show that there has been a recovery in Italian tourists coming to the North African nation. After the 2009 boom, with 383,000 presences and the 2011 drop to 120,000, the market rose steadily to 252,000 tourists in 2014. ''We trust we will improve further,'' Rekik said. ''We are neither optimists nor pessimists. We are only determined.'' (ANSAmed).

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