“Why shouldn’t we repeat the 2019 result?” Tunisia looks forward to summer 2021 with optimism

Tunisia Raja Ammar
Raja Ammar, director of Discover Tunisia in Poland

Ahmed Meddeb’s successor as director of the Tunisian Tourism Center in Poland already has experience in our market – this is her return to work in Warsaw after a seven-year break. She is optimistic about the upcoming opening of the summer season, but is holding back any concrete actions for the time being.

Marzena Markowska: This is your return to Poland as the director of the Tunisian Tourism Center…

Raja Ammar: Yes, I was already a representative in Warsaw in 2012-2014. My return came at a rather difficult time.

MM: Apart from what is evident, i.e. the current crisis, what else has changed since then when it comes to the Polish market?

RA: There is a constant change in tourism. This applies, for example, to consumer behavior. The competition is also tougher, but that’s good for the destination. On the other hand, there are also unchanging elements: the partners in Poland are more or less the same, the tour operator market looks similar to my previous term. People sometimes only move between companies, but in the industry, I see the same faces.

MM: What are your plans? Continuation of the current strategy or introduction of changes?

RA: We will continue what P. Ahmed did, but we will also try to add new elements, but nothing basically changes for our partners.

MM: However, you will not be in Warsaw all the time – you also manage the office in Budapest…

RA: Yes, I run an office in Hungary and also in Warsaw. The countries for which I am responsible include Romania, Moldova and the Baltic countries, some time ago also Ukraine.

MM: When I spoke with your predecessor, Ahmed Meddeb, he presented a vision of two scenarios for the course of this season – more and less optimistic, depending on the course of the vaccination program. Has anything changed in this respect? What is your strategy for the upcoming season?

RA: In tourism one must always be optimistic, without it one cannot move forward. 2020 was definitely a difficult year for everyone, we saw the peak of the pandemic development and travel restrictions. Nevertheless, Poles did not abandon the Tunisian direction and relatively many of them came to our country. Perhaps also because we have implemented an effective sanitary protocol applicable to the entire tourism sector in Tunisia, including in hotels. Health issues are in the foreground for countries hosting tourists from all over the world.

In 2021, it will not be easy if we only counted on a vaccine. But this problem affects the whole world. The fact that people have already got used to the obligation to take the test when traveling abroad is an advantage for us. The test becomes one of the routine procedures, such as buying a ticket. This is one of the reasons why I hope the season will start normally in April.

MM: Do you know what the program for Tunisia for this season is shaping up? What will be the supply of the product?

RA: Programs are definitely being developed, but it is too early to talk about specifics. However, I know that if we manage to implement the tour operators’ plans, it will be a quite successful year.

MM: Can we count on Tunisia introducing the possibility of making a test at the airport upon arrival, similar to eg in Egypt?

RA: In Tunisia, decisions on border crossing rules are made by a specially appointed government team that is monitoring the development of the epidemic on the spot. At the moment, the regulations are quite restrictive. Anyone who crosses the border must have the PRC test, and it is similar in Poland. But the regulation regulating these matters is updated weekly, so there is a possibility that it will change as the holidays get closer.

MM: How much does the PCR test cost in Tunisia and can it be easily performed in tourist destinations?

RA: The cost of the test is 60 euros. In the 2020 season, it could be performed in hotels. There are many points in tourist resorts where this is possible. However, last year we did not introduce a test or quarantine obligation for Polish tourists traveling as part of organized charter trips. The Sanitary Protocol ensured the observance of appropriate rules guaranteeing the health safety of our guests. Numerous inspections took place to provide tourists with the proper sanitary regime. At this time, the restrictions had to be restored due to the development of the epidemic situation. We have new strains of the virus, and many countries are closing their borders altogether.

MM: What are your marketing plans for this spring?

RA: We want to run a national image campaign, we are in the process of preparing it. It will be launched at the right moment. We also talk with tour operators about co-marketing activities. We adapt media plans to the situation and we want to introduce new solutions here as well. We plan PR activities, which on the one hand will be addressed to agents, but on the other – to the general public. We also plan study tours, press trips and study trips for travel agencies. They will be able to personally experience the sanitary situation in Tunisia and provide customers with first-hand information. We also plan to participate in stationary and online fairs, including ITB. in various types of stationary and online events.

MM: Intensive cooperation between Tunisia and influencers will be continued?

RA: Yes, the campaign with influencers will continue, it brings good and expected results. But we will also cooperate with traditional media. Both of these paths are essential.

MM: Do you have any goal for this year when it comes to the number of Poles in Tunisia?

RA: If all goes well, why not reach the same number of tourists as in 2019? If it succeeded, we would consider it a success.

MM: Do you already have a calendar of activities for the coming months?

RA: We have plans, ideas, projects, but all this will only start working when the health situation improves. Certainly, we are all waiting for the loosening of the restrictions, but also for the introduction of solutions for vaccinated people. Today it is not fully known how the epidemic will develop, so it’s hard to say what will happen in a few months.

There is currently sales and interest in Tunisia, but it’s hard to say what will happen in the coming months. Our partners are optimistic. Planning is done overnight. We will certainly take care to ensure the highest possible safety for our guests and work hand in hand with our partners so that the season is the best.