Tunisia First cruise ship to visit country since 2015 attack

The German-operated MS Europa will bring in 350 passengers for a one-day stopover, said Mustapha Jabeur

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Tunisians wave their national flag during a march against terrorism outside Tunis' Bardo Museum on March 29, 2015 play

Tunisians wave their national flag during a march against terrorism outside Tunis' Bardo Museum on March 29, 2015

(AFP/File)
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A cruise liner will dock in Tunis next month for the first time since a jihadist attack there in March 2015 that left 21 tourists dead, Tunisian authorities said Thursday.

The ship will arrive on October 6 at La Goulette, a port on the northern edge of the city, an official at the national tourism office told AFP.

The German-operated MS Europa will bring in 350 passengers for a one-day stopover, said Mustapha Jabeur, head of the port.

It will be the first such visit since the gun attack claimed by the Islamic State group at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 21 tourists and a policeman.

Many of the victims were on stopovers as part of cruise liner tours. The assault prompted several operators to cancel visits to Tunisia.

"We are happy about this resumption, which is crucial for the relaunch of the cruise business and will restore the confidence of other shipowners," Jabeur said.

"Every measure will be taken, particularly security-wise, to make sure everything goes well," he said.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called the visit "good news".

Italian cruise operators MSC and Costa Crociere, who lost passengers in the Bardo attack, said they had no immediate plans to return to Tunisia.

"Our current programme doesn't include any stops in Tunisia in 2016, or even in 2017," said Costa Crociere.

Dozens of hotels were forced to close following the Bardo attack and another in June 2015 at a beach hotel in Sousse which left 38 tourists dead. Many hotels remain shut play

Dozens of hotels were forced to close following the Bardo attack and another in June 2015 at a beach hotel in Sousse which left 38 tourists dead. Many hotels remain shut

(AFP/File)

A key sector in the Tunisian economy, tourism has been in crisis since the revolution of 2011 which led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The industry used to contribute around seven percent of GDP and supported 400,000 jobs.

Dozens of hotels were forced to close last winter following the Bardo attack and another in June 2015 at a beach hotel in Sousse which left 38 foreign holidaymakers dead. Many hotels remain shut.

Handicraft businesses, which depend heavily on cruise passengers, have also been hard hit.

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