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WATCH: First cruise ship docks in Tunisia after 3 years

Published Mar 24, 2022


Tunis - A cruise ship has docked in a Tunisian port for the first time since 2019, signalling the recovery of the tourism recovery in the North African country.

The cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, docked on Wednesday at the port of La Goulette with 724 tourists on board.

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About 400 tourists left the ship for excursions to Sousse, Kairouan, the Medina and Sidi Bousaid before leaving the country for Spain at 5pm.

"We were not trading for about 18 months, but we've been back in business since last July, and this is our first call here to northern Africa," said Captain Kim Tanner.

British tourist John Hilton, 75, said he was "absolutely delighted" to be in Tunisia.

"We're certainly pleased to get out and see some of the world and get to some of the places that we haven’t seen," he said.

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The ship was carrying 724 passengers, mostly British but also German, Italian and Spanish, according to Tourism Minister Moez Belhassen.

He said the cruise liner was the first of at least 40 expected to dock in Tunis this year.

"This is very important for many sectors, especially given the spending power of tourists," he said.

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Belhassen stressed the importance of the return of cruises for Tunisia's tourism, as well as other sectors such as transport, crafts and culture.

Tourism in Tunisia generated around 19.4 million arrivals per year in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, which made it one of the most visited countries in Africa.

In 2000, there were 197 400 hotel beds in roughly 95 977 rooms with an occupancy rate of 56 percent. At least 5,057,193 visited Tunisia that year.

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