Foreign tourists visiting the Middle East country of Tunisia have dropped off by over one million from January through August of 2015 to only 4 million after the two attacks by Islamist militants, said the tourist minister this week.
In June, a lone gunman killed 38 people at a Sousse hotel on Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast. That attack came three months after 21 foreign tourists were killed when gunmen attacked a national museum in Tunis the capital.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the two deadliest attacks in the history of the country in North Africa.
Tunisia, which relies on the tourism industry for close to 7% of its overall gross domestic product, remains under a state of emergency following the high-profile attacks with heightened security around major tourist sites and locations that are high profile in the country’s capital.
Salma Loumi the Tourism Minister said that the number of foreign tourists had fallen to four million since the start of this year through the end of August compared to 5 million last year for the same period.
Some hotels had to close as foreign tour groups cancelled large tours, entire routes, packages and cruises due to the deadly attacks carried out in broad daylight.
While acknowledging the situation is very difficult, the tourism minister said that the overall industry should use this time to take advantage of starting reforms, which include improving the services offered and diversifying the options available to tourists when they visit the country.
The government of Tunisia cut its forecast for economic growth to just 0.5% for the entire year, down from an expected growth initially forecasted of 3%.
Britain has advised its tourists against traveling to Tunisia after 30 citizens were killed during the attack in Sousse, when a gunman took an automatic weapon on the beach and opened fire on defenseless vacationers while they lounged in the sun at the pool and on the beach.
Tour operators Thomas Cook and TUI halted their programs for Tunisia from the UK united 2016 while other European tour operators shifted some of their capacity to other place like Spain.