"Bookings of French tourists up over 200% compared to last year" (René-Marc Chikli)
30/05/2018 13:34, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) - "Bookings of French tourists for summer holidays in Tunisia have increased more than 200% compared to last year," President of the Union of French Tour Operators (SETO) René-Marc Chikli told TAP Wednesday in Paris.

French tourists regain confidence in Tunisia destination. Almost 650 thousand tourists will spend their holidays this summer. This is explained by the fact that "there were no special events," according to him, pointing out that "the French have redoubled their confidence vis-à-vis the destination partly and not entirely, "there will be a long way to go to convince the French to go to Tunisia and reach the figures recorded in 2010."

Chikli added that "the destination has recovered colours thanks to the efforts exerted at the communication level for three years."

Another strong element is that Tunisia’s competing destinations had taken advantage of its crisis to increase their prices, on the other hand, they do not necessarily have the same level of quality, it is what explains the natural return of the French towards Tunisia, explained SETO president.

"Today, all the ingredients for a real restart is ready and available, there is no reason not to make good results for the season and not to find in 2019 the same level of 2010," Chikli estimated, while calling on Tunisian tourism stakeholders to develop other products than the seaside to capture the French more, maintain the level of quality in terms of services and infrastructure and readjust the capacity of transport air.

For National Board of Tunisian Tourism (ONTT) Director in Paris Sami Gharbi, French tourists have regained confidence in the destination "because it is unavoidable for several reasons: good price/quality ratio, geographical and cultural proximity, language, diversity of tourist products, good air service and improvement of the security aspect.

Sami Gharbi told TAP that "measures are being taken to welcome French tourists and to make of the season a success, in particular to ensure the quality of the reception and on-site services, with daily monitoring by the inspectors of the tourism and offer a wide choice of discoveries.

He underlined that "Tunisia's airline scheduling from France for the summer of 2018 shows a positive trend of around 9% compared to 2017 to meet the growing demand of tour operators."

Taking the floor, editor-in-chief of L'Echo Touristique Linda Lainé said that "Tunisia is enjoying a resurgence of success among the French, because the security climate has been calm for three years."

"There is also a historical affection of the French with regard to the destination. This is true from the point of view of travellers and professionals. Tunisia is one of the most popular destinations because it offers seaside stays at very competitive prices," she pointed out.

Lainé added that "the latest figures published indicate that 578 thousand French went to Tunisia in 2017, a growth of 46%, against 1.4 million in 2010. So, the destination has not yet caught up the performances of past years."

"Tunisia must focus on quality, diversify products, maintain a stable security climate and continue to develop long-lasting and sustainable relationships with tour operators and travel agencies," recommends the editor-in-chief, estimating "that there are today very encouraging signs with the return of tour operators to Tunisia, such as Fram, TUI, Go Voyage which has just published a 44-page brochure to reach the goal of 30 thousand customers this year.”

CEO of Authentique voyages Hakim Tounsi confirms the recovery. However, he believes that the rates, especially out of season are very low. "The travel distribution companies that built their business models of declassified sales thrived, taking advantage of the crisis, and imposed a very low price level for the entire marketplace even leading conventional retailers to talk about declassified sales if not sold off," according to him.

Tounsi voiced wish that this recovery in demand to Tunisia will put a brake on this situation that only suits the business of the distributor who is paid by a percentage of turnover and does not necessarily care about the cost price of the sold product.

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