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Tunisia: Djerba and Resort Clubs, boosters for the recovery of the French market

The destination is reaping the benefits of new political stability and the promotion of the ONTT


After several years of decline, the number of tourists is taking a new turn for Tunisia in 2014. Travelers are returning to the country. Among them, the French are numerous. A trend that is confirmed by the increase in sales of producers and distributors from France. They confirm the recovery and insist on the success of Djerba with products tailored to families, such as Resorts. Also note the video (see Box below) recently shot during a press trip to Tunis, Hammamet and Monastir.



The recovery in sales of trips to Tunisia on the French market is largely driven by Resorts in Djerba - Photo JDL
The recovery in sales of trips to Tunisia on the French market is largely driven by Resorts in Djerba - Photo JDL
The figures of 2010 are still far away, but the recovery of Tunisian tourism proves stronger every week.

After several sluggish seasons, the destination is finally recording a growth in traveler flows.

Thus, on Monday, April 7, 2014, the Ministry of Tourism announced on its website that Tunisia has received 988,767 tourists in the first quarter of 2014. This represents an increase of 7.1% compared to the same period in 2013.

A figure that remains at 10% lower than the first quarter of 2010, before the revolution in the country (in January 2011, Editor's note). But it still helped generate 694.9 million dinars (84 million euros ) in revenue for destination.

These revenues increased by 2.1% compared to the first quarter of 2013. And even 2.5% compared to the first three months of 2010. But this evolution is relative because it does not take into account the depreciation of the currency since the revolution.

Tourism recovery in Tunisia is great news for the country as the sector is important to its GDP. And among the markets that contribute the most, France is in a very good position. All the professionals interviewed saw their sales in the destination skyrocket since early 2014.

Growth in Q1 for general DMC

"I confirm the optimism on Tunisia. Demands are coming back and our customers are happy to be able to go there again," says Thomas Crespy, Director of Product Development at Marmara.

To support this recovery, the tour operator (TO) has optimized its production. "That's why we opened a new unit in Dar Djerba, says Thomas Crespy. This allows us to offer them the same capacity as last year in July and August."

He believes that the TO’s decision of staying in Tunisia during the Winter 2013/2014 allows it to be competitive for Summer 2014: "Today, we are able to be responsive and meet the demands."

An optimism also express by FRAM. "In two months - March and April 2014 - we caught 25 % of lagging growth in sales of the low season," announced George Vialard, Director of Production.

The catching up of sales on the destination mainly concerns summer stays. But it should intensify in the coming weeks for these two general TOs who are counting on many last minute sales.

As for the Thomas Cook Group, the communication department released that Tunisia represents nearly 30% of the activity of Jet tours for Summer 2014, when the destination did not even account for 20% of sales during the same period in 2013.

"Tunisia is positioning itself as one of the leading destinations for the summer and we believe in its tourism revival," says Delphine Lacroix Peretti, Head of Communications.

At FTI Voyages, Thomas Giband, Marketing Director, even anticipates a doubling of the number of customers in Tunisia for Summer 2014. "We’re still far away from our golden years, but the destination is once again going in the right direction," he nuances.

The majority of sales in Djerba

According to the Franco-German TO, Djerba is the most popular spot. The island features 9 out of its 10 hotels in the Top 10 Sales of Tunisia. Travelers attend the rather high end resorts (4 stars). With products "known on the market and well suited for families,” explains Thomas Giband.

A customer base that also works well with FRAM. It is coming back strongly within the Framissima. With good performance results in Djerba but also to inland destinations like Hammamet, Monastir and Sousse.

The resorts are also popular in Marmara: Dar Djerba, Beach Djerba and Beach Hammamet mainly. "We have focused our efforts on our resorts," explains the director of product development.

As for Thomas Cook, the Eldorador Clubs work best: 3 in Djerba (4 stars Djerba One Resort, 3 stars Seabel Aladin and the 4 stars Odyssey), one in Hammamet (3 stars Salammbô) and one in Port El Kantaoui (4 stars Seabel Alhambra.)

The group also offers the Sentido Hotels Tunisia: a new hotel concept that it is selling exclusively in France. 5 facilities are available in Tunisia: 3 in Hammamet, 1 in Monastir/ Skanes and 1 in Djerba .

Sunshine Holidays, a TO specialized in destinations, is experiencing a clear revival of sales in March 2014 for departures in April (Easter) and May.

It offers departures from Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and Toulouse to Djerba. "In these cities, our seat blocks are overflowing. We have to look for new flights,” comments Genevieve Dimitropoulos, Sales Manager at Sunshine Holidays.

The producer has added two new units to its catalog on Djerba "to meet demand": 4 stars Club Rimel and 3 stars Ksar Dejrba.

Families are asking for Tunisia in travel agencies

Distribution players are confirming the trends mentioned by the producers on the destination.

Emmanuelle Bach Donnard, Marketing and Communication Director of Havas Voyages is talking about a revival as well "there are as many demands since the beginning of March 2014 as the orders placed since the beginning of the year." These demands are at a 42 % in the network compared to the 1st quarter of 2013.

"Overall, the products of all TOs are experiencing good momentum," she said while also noting good results for Clubs and hotels.

Vincent Luna, the CEO of Travel24 France also recorded a sales’ revival in Tunisia. The country is not placed as one of the "Top Destinations" list on Travel24.fr.

The most distributed products by the online agency are in Djerba, Port El Kantaoui, Sousse and Monastir. "It concerns families that emphasize rather high quality products," says Vincent Luna.

For his part François Piot, President of “Prêt à Partir” emphasizes Tunisia’s good health on its network, citing Luxair’s figures. The destination is at a 10% increase between November 1st 2013 and October 31st 2014.

Djerba monopolizes 75 % of these sales. The remaining 25 % is divided between Enfidha, Hammamet, Port el Kantaoui and Mahdia .

In contrast, at Selectour Afat, the feedbacks seem more mixed. According to a survey of 269 members on the intranet voluntary network, 44% of agencies report that sales are “not taking off all" in Tunisia.

The same percentage, however, notes a recovery "with clients who are looking for low prices." 6% say they are kicking off for Summer 2014 and 6% for Easter and Spring 2014.

An “unexpected and positive” political message

Professionals interviewed offered several explanations for this return of French travelers to Tunisia.

However, the main reason is the return of political stability in the country. For Georges Vialard of FRAM, the adoption of the new constitution provides greater security, as well as the stability of the new government appointed at the head of the State.

"What has contributed most is the Tunisian political message of parity and government transparency. This message is rather unexpected and positive," said Thomas Crespy.

Others, like Thomas Giband of FTI Travel, recall that the destination also benefits greatly from its natural assets: its beaches and sunshine. He added that prices are "competitive" and that "the French like Tunisia because of its Francophile atmosphere."

But what seems to have contributed most to the recovery of tourism in Tunisia is the promotion campaign initiated by the National Office of Tunisian Tourism ( ONTT.)

"The office showed a beautiful image of the destination” confirms Georges Vialard. “I invite the new direction of the ONTT to renew this type of operation."

"I think this initiative for the recovery of destination was a good idea,” adds Vincent Luna of Travel24.fr. “It has clearly proved beneficial.”

On site, everything is done to strengthen and sustain the stability needed for a return to pre-revolution tourist flows. With democracy as a plus!

Video: ONTT, Tunisair and CTN working hand in hand

TourMaG.com was the guest of a recent eductour from March 27th through 30th in Tunis, Hammamet and Monastir.

Organized by Mrs Amel ABOUDI Alouani, Regional Director of Tunisair Marseille and Mr. Mohamed Abid, Director of CTN France and Maher KLIBI, Regional Director of The Tunisian National Tourist Office, the tour allowed to visually demonstrate the country’s announced recovery.

This was an opportunity for the TourMaG.com video team (Xavier Petit and Frédéric Arfi, with the voice of Claire Pain), to be hosted in the Royal Thalassa Monastir hotels and La Villa Bleue inSidi Bou Said to soon come back with a public issue ("Land & Markets of the World" ) on the destination Tunisia.

Participants in the eductour held from March 27 to 30 in Tunis, Hammamet and Monastir . photo / dr
Participants in the eductour held from March 27 to 30 in Tunis, Hammamet and Monastir . photo / dr

Written by Pierre Coronas translated by Joséphine Foucher the 17/04/2014
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