Smart Tunisia 2020 Oversees significant Investment in the Tourist Industry

The Tunisian government’s initiative known as “Smart Tunisia 2020” will see large scale investment in wireless technology designed to aid the development of airports, ports and transport infrastructure within the country. It is hoped that the careful implementation of smart technology solutions for passengers and aviation personnel alike will encourage and assist not only tourists but the international business community enabling growth across multiple sectors. Plans are in place to ensure that Tunisia’s airports will join airports globally in quality and service delivery.

Despite the devastating terror attacks at Sousse and the Bardo museum in Tunis and notwithstanding the unprecedented demise of Thomas Cook in 2019, not only is the tourism industry rising again but contributes to approximately 8% of Tunisia's GDP making it one of the country’s most vital sectors and important providers of jobs. It is thought that over 400,000 people work within the tourism industry. Although initially subdued, numbers of visitors to Tunisia have been steadily increasing since 2015 restoring the industry to its former glory.

Easyjet has recently announced that it will bring back flights to Enfidha and Lonely Planet has listed Tunisia in its top ten best value countries to visit in 2020. Tourists are returning to visit the numerous sites of interest including the immense amphitheatre at  El Jem, rivalled only by the Colosseo in Rome, the haunting ruins at Uthina and also the release of the new Star Wars film has revived the interest in the remains of the Star Wars film set representing Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine, created by George Lucas.

Tourists, travel regulators and aviation authorities alike have become increasingly more discerning putting pressure on the industry to evolve and improve, inevitably such demands require strategic change, flexibility and perhaps most crucially, funding.

It is perhaps no surprise that along with such rapid change, the country’s airports are also undergoing additional redevelopment. In January 2019, Tunisia's Minister of Transport, Radhouane Ayara, announced the construction of a new international airport in Tunis. The airport is projected to serve ten million passengers by 2030 and has an estimated cost of EUR690 million/USD784 million. In addition, building works at Tunis-Carthage Airport in the capital, are already underway at a cost of approximately $130,000,000 and renovations of two of the country’s airports most commonly used by tourists at Tozeur and Djerba are set to go ahead at a cost in excess of $40,000,000.

The newly expanded airports will support a larger updated fleet of planes run by the national carrier Tunisair. Tunisair operates 28 aircraft (22 Airbus and six Boeing), runs a parts factory in-country and has signed a final deal to buy 5 new Airbus A320 planes and lease three further planes of the same model. The ever-expanding airline is working to support its plans to increase its annual passenger traffic to five million.

Such rapid growth and forward movement are symptomatic of both the recovery of the tourism industry together with the increase of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country and region as a whole. It is reported that FDI in the country increased by approximately 650.70 TND Million in 2019 and continues to do so. In furtherance of such expansion, the Tunisian Government provides tax breaks and other incentives for foreign investment in the aviation and tourism sectors which in turn are supported by an educated, relatively low-cost workforce, including trained engineers, and very close proximity to Europe.

Tunisia is a resilient and rapidly evolving jewel ripe for investment. Often overlooked, this formidable North African Nation is rich with opportunity.

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