Tunisia: Minister makes appeal for Italian tourists

'Support democratic Tunisia and visit our country', Gamra

22 May, 17:33

    (ANSAmed) - Rome, May 22 - Tunisia's tourism minister Jamel Gamra has appealed to Italians to visit his country and support its fledgling democracy.

    "Who wants to support the process of democracy in Tunisia should come and see us on vacation," he said on a visit to Rome this week.

    The Arab Spring uprising which forced President Ben Ali from power in 2011 had a serious impact on the country's tourism, one of the key economic sectors in Tunisia. "We have dropped from more than seven million tourists in 2010, the year before the revolution, to four million in 2011," the minister told ANSAmed.

    But 2012 has seen fresh growth - the number of visitors is around six million and now the government of Tunisia, which was elected a few months ago, is determined to take advantage of this positive trend.

    "The keys to our strategy to revive the sector are the environment, security, quality of the deals and promotion," Gamra said. As part of this strategy, the streets of Djerba, one of the most popular tourist spots, have been cleaned but just a few weeks the streets were worse than the garbage emergency in Naples. "Now the situation is much improved," the minister said.

    Gamra also wanted to emphasise the importance of security on his visit.

    "I came to reassure you about the security situation in my country," he said. "There has been a revolution but we have also seen the risk of confusion but now we are on target to create a new democratic Tunisia in which we will not allow anyone to overstep the boundaries of individual liberties".

    Recent conflicts between police and Salafites however would appear to indicate things were different.

    "Those people are damaging our image," he said. "They are a minority, they represent 11 milion Tunisian citizens. "We cannot stop them expressing their opinions, but we can intervene firmly as we have done if they attempt to overstep the mark". (ANSAmed)
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