Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A Country Report on Tunisia: Tunisia Gives Top Priority to Developing Its Tourism Resources

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A Country Report on Tunisia: Tunisia Gives Top Priority to Developing Its Tourism Resources

Article excerpt

A Country Report on Tunisia: Tunisia Gives Top Priority to Developing Its Tourism Resources

God did not give much oil to Tunisia, but He was generous in His gifts of stunning beaches, exotic deserts, lush oases, and ideal temperatures. In order to make the most of these gifts, Tunisia's major industry is tourism. However, even at the height of the tourist season, an American visitor feels like a valued guest because, although it is a popular European vacation destination, not many Americans have discovered that Tunisia is the perfect Mediterranean vacation spot. Its white sand beaches, scenic coastal towns and romantic desert caravan stops all full of ancient treasures and charming shops drew more than 4 million tourists to its 620 hotels in 1997.

Tunisia is at the crossroads of the Arab, African and European words and easily accessible to visitors from every country. Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, French is very widely spoken, and a growing number of Tunisians in tourism-related occupations speak English and German. There are souvenirs to meet every budget, including hand-made carpets, colorful tiles, pottery, brass, and jewelry. Seaside restaurants provide fine dining with fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. There is a variety of sea resorts to choose from, ranging from the rocky coast and clear waters of Tabarka in the north for diving and fishing, to the sandy, sheltered beaches of Hammamet, Sousse and Jerba to the south for sunbathing and sailing. Just outside Tunis, the hilltop village of Sidi Bou Said, known as the artists' quarter, is the perfect spot to drink hot mint tea with pine nuts while gazing across domes, dazzling white houses with blue shutters, and balconies and doors festooned with bougainvillea to the sea below. …

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