A town in Tunis [Photo: ctrip.com/Wang Lei]
Tunisian officials said Thursday that the visa exemption for Chinese would boost the tourism industry badly hit by terrorist attacks during last two years in this North African country.
"From today, the tourists of Chinese nationality will not need a visa to enter Tunisian territory, in the conditions of having a round-trip flight ticket and a valid hotel reservation voucher within 90 days," said Chafik Hajji, general director of consular affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"This is good news for Tunisian tourism, which has succeeded in attracting the Chinese market," said Nabil Hedhiri, head of division and general coordinator of the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT).
In an interview with Xinhua, Hedhiri said that the new policy remains among some strategic measures, including a direct flight between Tunisia and China.
The visa exemption for the Chinese tourists "is the result of a long process of coordination," he said, adding the two sides must move on to another level of action.
As former representative of ONTT in Beijing, Hedhiri admitted he once failed to convince travel agencies to program the Tunisian destination in view of the reduced number of passengers flying between the two countries.
"On the statistical side, the indicators on tourism flows between Tunisia and China remain still beyond the expectations shared by the two countries unless the latest official figures augur well for the beginning of a serious revival," said Hedhiri.
Compared to other traditional markets for Tunisia who are declining or stagnant, the Chinese market is "showing a promising growth," he said.
From January to December 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, Tunisian tourism growth from the Chinese market reached 93.6 percent, or 7,396 tourists.
"The historic links of friendship and cooperation between the two countries will make China a future tourism partner for Tunisia," he said.
"In the meantime, the Tunisian tourist products will have to be adapted to the expectations of the Chinese tourists without forgetting the training of the guides in Chinese language as well as hotel professionals in Chinese gastronomy," he added.