Thalasso and medical tourism fill up
If the tourist activity today resumes, it is renewed and knows a new dynamic. With a niche that is confirmed. Thalassotherapy, state-of-the-art clinics, specialized surgical operations, “low cost” care … Tunisia confirms its position as a medical tourism platform with an increasingly diversified clientele: the traditional Europeans have added the nationals of sub-Saharan Africa, while that the Algerian neighbors confirm their interest for the Tunisian coasts. Reportage in Sousse.
By Lilia Ayari
If the bombings of Bardo and Sousse hit the Tunisian tourist sector, the activity, pillar of the economy, was already in decline for several years. “Tunisian tourism was already in decline in recent years. Morocco has become more attractive, says Montassar, a guide in Sousse for more than ten years. We have had several crises but since 2011, the context is different. We could have used it in our favor and invited to know better the culture and the history of this country which triggered the Arab Spring. On the contrary, we let the situation deteriorate until the attacks of Bardo and Sousse who gave the final blow … “
“It’s not just the beach and the desert in Tunisia! “
With the revolution, and the interest aroused around the world for the country that brought down the tyrant, Montassar has created a site with friends to invite international tourists to discover Tunisian society by living with the locals. A trend that is developing, with others, less seaside, more focused on culture, crafts, national historic heritage … “It’s not just the beach and the desert in Tunisia. We can discover the picking of olive oil or dates in the south, the life of the fishermen in Kerkennah, in spring the orange trees of Cape Bon … the flagship products of Tunisia. It is necessary to promote the cultural, handicraft and gastronomic heritage of Tunisia. However, the priority is human capital. Work on the service.
Thalassotherapy does not know the crisis
This is at the heart of the reputation of the Hasdrubal Group’s establishments, which include several specialized hotels, including the spa. At the hotel Port el Kantaoui – which owes its name to the marina which is close by – calm, friendliness and professionalism are the watchwords. “Our hotel is not designed for family or mass tourism,” says director Charfeddine Mokhtar. It’s upscale hotel. Our customers, mainly seniors, are mostly spa guests. Here, all customers are called by their first name, as soon as they arrive. The majority, a European clientele, comes to benefit from the thalasso treatments dispensed by the hotel, pioneer in the field in Tunisia and several times distinguished on the international scene. An otherwise 100% ecological hotel. Water is recovered from the sea and recycled. Although the hotel has not been spared by the tourist crisis that the city knows, it is nevertheless far better than the others, thanks to a concept that has helped to retain the customer. According to the formula of his stay, the client enjoys, from the second stay, promotional measures with services and care offered. The more he comes, the less he pays. As a result, the hotel has a 60% return rate. Including this season. French, Swiss and Russians for the most part. As well as some Tunisians, they benefit from a reduction of 30% on the stay, including for the Tunisians of the diaspora. Not to mention the Algerians! And recently, some sub-Saharans.
A category of tourists long neglected by the sector, but which is now the subject of all attention. “The fact is that the professionals of the sector have long despised the Algerian tourist, like African,” says Montassar. We focused on Europeans. It is today that we are beginning to take an interest in it … “While intra-Africa tourism is growing as the middle classes explode on the continent.