Gulf Countries

UK tourists to return to Tunisia after security boost

Author: AFP, REUTERSSat, 2018-02-03 03:00ID: 1517606941900343900TUNIS: Britain’s Security Minister Ben Wallace has praised efforts by Tunisia to boost security and said he expects a return of tourists from his country, two-and-a-half years after a terror attack on a beach in which 30 Britons were killed. “It’s been really impressive what I’ve seen over the last few days,” Wallace told reporters in Tunis. “I look forward to the fact there’s going to be lots more British people coming in the next few weeks.”Wallace has been in Tunisia since Wednesday for talks with officials on the security situation.In June 2015, a gunman killed 38 people, including 30 British tourists, in a shooting spree at a beach resort at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse.The attack, one of three that shook Tunisia that year, was claimed by Daesh.It prompted Britain to impose a warning against “all but essential travel” to Tunisia.Last July, Britain lifted the travel warning for virtually all of Tunisia’s Mediterranean coastline following “security improvements” in the North African country.However, it continues to advise against travel to southern Tunisia, along the border with Libya, and advises against all but essential travel along the western border with Algeria.In August last year, British travel group Thomas Cook, one of the world’s biggest tour operators, said it would resume organizing holidays to Tunisia.Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said London’s decision to ease the travel ban “has had a positive impact.”“The next season will see an influx of British tourists in Tunisia,” he said, speaking to reporters alongside Wallace.Tunisia’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism.Before the beach attack, more than 400,000 British tourists visited Tunisia annually. But in 2016, just 20,000 British visitors were recorded, official Tunisian figures show.On Thursday, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said he would push to double French investment in Tunisia over five years to buttress its faltering economy and transition to democracy.In a speech to Parliament in Tunis, Macron paid lengthy tribute to Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the first of the Arab Spring uprisings, and to its efforts to build a democratic system, saying they remained an example for a troubled region.“The challenge which is yours today is to transform this cultural and democratic spring into a political, economic and social spring,” that benefited all social classes, he said.Macron told lawmakers they had a “vast responsibility” to ensure that “nothing that has been undertaken in the last few years is weakened or overturned.”Holding delayed local elections, fighting corruption and reforming public services were all crucial to bolster democracy, he added.“The Arab world, the Maghreb, all the shores of the Mediterranean are watching you. They are watching you work and they need to see you succeed.”To support job creation, France aimed to double the rate of private sector investment over the five years of Macron’s term, which ends in 2022.“A number of companies have already confirmed their willingness to invest,” Macron said, without naming any.French direct investment in Tunisia was worth 3.3 billion dinars ($1.39 billion) in 2016, making it the second biggest foreign investor behind the UAE, according to figures from the French economy ministry.Macron had pledged more than 270 million euros ($335 million) in new financing for Tunisia on Wednesday, as he began his two-day state visit.In his speech to Parliament, Macron also said France would put all its energy into finding a solution to the conflict in Libya and would push for elections to be held there by the end of the year.
Main category: Middle-East

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