The north African country of Tunisia has faced a severe decrease in tourism in 2015, following a terror attack at Sousse. The shootout resulted in the deaths of 38 people. These deadly attacks succeeded in harming the tourism of a country where it is vital to the economy. The UK had effectively banned citizens from visiting, and British tour operators had stopped accommodating the region. This decision had a widespread effect on those planning to visit.
Though this embargo was lifted in August of 2017, after the Tunisian Government improved security and threat response, tourist traffic to the area remains slow. However, most of the country is safe for international travelers. This has created a golden opportunity for many, with few tourists crowding the many stunning beaches and ancient wonders of Tunisia.
What To Do In Tunisia
Tunisia offers glittering sandy beaches, as well as cultural and architectural marvels. The 3rd Century amphitheater of El Djem, is one of the best preserved in the world. Used for gladiatorial matches (and featured in the 2000 film Gladiator), it takes you right back to the time of the Romans.
Carthage, now the capital city of Tunis, was once the seat of power in the Mediterranean. Destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, the ruins of the city can still be seen today. Tunis is also home to many beaches and resorts, as well as numerous traditional souks, or markets. Sfax and the Kerkennah Islands, popular beach destinations, are also close by.
Sidi Bou Said is a picturesque village 25 kilometers from Tunis. Its cobbled streets and blue-and-white painted houses make it look like it was plucked straight out of Greece. The nearby Sousse, now known for the tragedy in 2015, was once a thriving Roman town. It transitioned into a wealthy port during the early Islamic era, and these influences are still visible. The kasbah, souks, ramparts, medina, and ribat (both a fort and a religious building) are examples of this.
The Star Wars Connection
Tunisia served as the backdrop for parts of the first two Star Wars trilogies, especially those set on the fictional desert planet of Tatooine. Indeed fans will recognize the name from the Tunisian city of Tataouine. The crews of these films left numerous sets intact in the desert, and they eventually became popular tourist destinations.
These sites are located mainly in southern Tunisia. Matmata served as the site of the interior shots of Luke Skywalker’s home. This is now the Sidi Driss Hotel, where you can even stay in Luke’s bedroom! Medenine’s Grofa complex, on the other side of the Sahara Desert, was used as the home of Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker. Tozeur was used as the background for Mos Espa, and Ajim on the island of Djerba served as Mos Eisley. The domed exterior of the famous cantina and the mosque that was used as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home are still visible.
Djerba’s ancient traditions of ceramic production, its old markets, and the ancient Roman causeway that still connects it to the mainland, make it a lovely place to visit.
However, like most other tourism in the country, the Star Wars sites have seen a steep decline in visitors over the last few years. This has contributed to a general air neglect. As more and more tourists are returning to Tunisia, this sad state will hopefully change soon.