Tunisia loses third of tourism revenue over ISIS attacks

Tourists look at flowers at the site of a shooting on the outskirts of Sousse on June 28, 2015.
Tourists look at flowers at the site of a shooting on the outskirts of Sousse on June 28, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

TUNIS (AFP) - Tunisia lost more than a third of its tourism revenues last year after attacks targeting the vital sector claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, official figures showed Thursday.

Two ISIS attacks last year killed 59 foreign tourists, badly shaking an industry that accounts for 7 per cent of the country's GDP.

"The national economy in 2015 saw a decline in activity... notably in the industrial and service sectors, which were affected by the terrorist events and despite the success of the political transition," Tunisia's central bank said.

The country is hailed as a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings, although authorities have failed to redress the economy or resolve the problems of social exclusion.

Tourist entries in 2015 dropped by 30.8 per cent compared to the previous year and tourism revenues declined by 35.1 per cent, the bank said.

Last year, the number of tourists from Europe fell by 53.6 per cent compared to 2014 - or by 65.4 per cent compared to 2010, figures from the tourism ministry showed.

The 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali also dealt a blow to the tourism sector.

In March, 21 tourists and a policeman were killed in a gun attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, while in June an attack at a beach resort near Sousse killed 38 holidaymakers.

ISIS also claimed a suicide bombing in Tunis in November that killed 12 presidential guards.

Last year, several hotels closed temporarily due to a lack of tourists.

Travel operator Thomas Cook on Tuesday cancelled all British bookings to Tunisia until November following a wave of protests across the country.