Tunisia and tourism: Important industry but numbers are down

The tourist arrivals into the North African country Tunisia from January to July 10, 2014 reached some 2.83 million tourists, registering a drop of -1.4% compared with the same period of 2013 and -11.

Tunisia and tourism: Important industry but numbers are down

The tourist arrivals into the North African country Tunisia from January to July 10, 2014 reached some 2.83 million tourists, registering a drop of -1.4% compared with the same period of 2013 and -11.6% compared to 2010.

Tourism for Tunisia is an important source of income. The travel and tourism industry in that country is well developed.

Tunisia is usually a safe and friendly country in North Africa. Millions of Europeans visit annually to enjoy the beaches along the Mediterranean and soak up some ancient culture amongst the well-preserved Roman ruins. The Sahara Desert attracts adventure seekers during the winter months. Southern Tunisia is where George Lucas filmed many of his Star Wars movies, he used the natural landscape and traditional Berber villages (some underground) to depict the Planet Tatooine.

The vast majority of visitors to Tunisia head straight for the resorts at Hammamet, Cap Bon and Monastir, but there is more to the country than sandy beaches and the lovely blue Mediterranean. Here are some highlights:

Sidi Bou Said: A gorgeous cliff top village overlooking the Mediterranean with steep cobbled streets lined with white-washed houses framed by bright blue window trellises.

Ksar Ghilaine: A desert oasis on the edge of the vast Saharan dunes, take a camel ride for the day and get lost in the sheer magnificence of this glorious, gold-colored sea of sand.

Southern Tunisia’s Ancient Berber Villages: Southern Tunisia is filled with stark, beautiful landscapes dotted with ancient hilltop Berber villages, multi-storied granaries and troglodyte dwellings. Fascinating to explore, don’t miss out on local markets when you go. Star Wars tours in this area are also fun for fans.

Medinas of Tunis, Sfax and Kairouan: Medinas are old-walled cities, built by the Arabs and Turks and are still in use today. The warren-like alleys are filled to the brim with shops and artisans working much like they have done for hundreds of years.

Roman Ruins of Carthage, Dougga and El Jem: Tunisia’s Roman built monuments are better preserved than many you’ll find in Italy. Tours from the resorts will often include El-Jem, the world’s best preserved Roman amphitheater.

Djerba: A lovely island filled with history and a charming main town, Houmt Souk with beautiful architecture and budget hotels in old Caravanserais. Avoid the tourist zone at all costs unless you’re just there to get a tan.

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