Interview: Tunisia, China Have Great Potential in Promoting Tourism Cooperation: Official
The Tunisia-China cooperation in promoting tourism has great potential as China is pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, a senior Tunisian tourism official told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The future of Tunisia's tourism definitely rests with the Chinese market, said Leila Tekaia, manager of public relations and communication of Tunisian National Tourism Office.
"Chinese outbound tourism market is incredibly important for Tunisia, as more and more Chinese are travelling abroad," Tekaia said.
"Within China's proposed Belt and Road Initiative, we believe the number of Chinese tourists in Tunisia will be greatly boosted," she added.
To attract more Chinese tourists, Tunisia announced in February visa exemption for Chinese citizens on condition that they purchase a round-trip plane ticket and a valid hotel voucher for a period not exceeding 90 days.
"This is an excellent step which has been done, and we are already registering the number increase," Tekaia said. "Tunisia is the best well-kept secret of North Africa and Chinese people are discovering it."
Lying at the north point of the African continent, Tunisia has a history of more than 3,000 years, and is rich in tourism resources.
Tekaia believed that her country has a lot to offer to Chinese travellers.
"Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia has long beautiful beaches, while various archeological sites provide opportunities to discover different civilization, experience the amazing Sahara desert, and also discover famous film locations of Star Wars and the English Patient," she explained.
The traditional cuisines and local handicraft souvenirs also present multicolored culture in Tunisia, Tekaia said.
According to the Tunisian official, more than 10,000 Chinese tourists will have travelled to her country by the end of 2017.
"Tunisia has gradually become an attractive destination for Chinese tourists," she noted.
Tekaia praised China's Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses on not only sharing economic development but also promoting closer people-to-people exchanges and strengthening bonds among nations.
"Tunisia is rich in historical and cultural resources, and this initiative is going to help develop our relationship and exchanges with Chinese people," Tekaia said.
The Belt and Road Initiative, or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.
Tekaia described the initiative as "incredible, fascinating and very wise."
"The initiative is a way of building bridges and communication. We definitely support the initiative," she said.
The Tunisia-China relations have enjoyed a healthy and stable development since their establishment 53 years ago.
Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, during an official visit to China in July, said Tunisia fully supports the Belt and Road Initiative, and stands ready to be involved in the cooperation projects under the initiative.