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Tunisia beach attacks: Opportunities for hope

Monday 27 June 2016

On June 26 last year the resort of Sousse in Tunisia was hit by an attack by Islamist terrorists.

A lone gunman hit the resort at Port El Kantaoui, leaving 38 dead and 39 wounded. Of those 56 were from the UK. Before the incident tourism accounted for almost 15% of Tunisia’s economy.

One year on from the atrocity University of Salford academic and tourism expert Dr Neil Robinson describes how the attack has crippled the tourist industry in the country, with bookings down by over 80%. And he offers some tips on how it might get back on its feet.

Dr Robinson said: “We all remember the terrible terrorist outrage last year when tourists were murdered on the beach. The impact of that day and the images that were broadcast around the world is still being felt massively in Tunisia today.

“Tourism is still down by over 80% in the region and the beaches are largely empty of visitors.

“If we are to look at other regions where terrorism has occurred, (e.g. Paris, London and Belgium) visitor numbers often revert to pre conflict levels, within a 12 to 18 month time frame, but this has not been the case in Tunisia probably due to its image, location (North Africa) and the rise of ISIS in the region.

“But opportunities for hope do exist. For Tunisia to reassure visitors of their ability to provide a safe tourism experience they need to do several things. The renowned American marketing guru Jerome McCarthy suggested that any product could be saved from lack of sales by modifying the 4p’s, these being product, price, promotion and place. In the case of Tunisia, product, price, promotion and placing is fundamental to its long term survival.

“Tunisia needs to reassure the general holidaying public that the tourism product is fit for purpose and safe to purchase/experience maybe by the use of increased security, celebrity endorsement, positive press comments, in terms of price, heavy discounting strategies have worked well in the past in attracting travellers to purchase the product.

“Multichannel promotional strategies, using social media as well as more traditional media need to be used to get the word out that Tunisia is open for business. They also need to look at where people are buying the product, high end bespoke travel agents, on-line or on the high street, and ask what the distribution channel is saying about the product.

“While Tunisia is a long way from its pre 2015 tourism figures, it has the potential to develop it tourism product accordingly.”

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361