Photograph — depositphotos

Tunisia, on Saturday, June 27, fully reopened its economy to tourism for the first time since it went into total lockdown. The move aims to boost tourism and revive its crumbling economy. It has been reported that operations have commenced at Tunis-Carthage airport, with flights to Rome, Geneva and Paris scheduled to depart.  

On June 14, the country declared it won the fight against COVID-19 spread, after three months of lockdown. Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, made the announcement. Within those 3 months of lockdown, Tunisia record zero local cases for almost a month. 

This would make it the first nation in the Maghreb region to reopen all its international borders. However, businesses and inter-city and regional travel have already resumed fully after June 14 when restrictions were lifted within the country.

According to a detailed report, the Tunisian government initially released a statement that granted all nations eligible access to the country from June 27. But on June 25, the decision was retracted and replaced with a colour-coded system showing which countries could be allowed to visit based on risk. 

The new colour-coded systems classify eligible tourists into two- the Green List and the Orange List. Countries on the Green List are those with fewer cases of the coronavirus within their borders. Therefore, travellers from these countries are excluded from stiff precautionary measures. They only need to complete a sanitary form online, before they embark on their journey.

Meanwhile, countries on the Orange List are countries with a medium prevalence of coronavirus. The report explains that people coming from these countries, in addition to the online sanitary form, need to present a negative-PCR test performed no later than 72 hours before departure and not exceeding 120 hours before touching the Tunisian soil. This is to help with layovers and transits.

Currently, not all countries are found on the lists but the government has said it would update the list from time to time.

Tourism accounts for about  8 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product (GDP). After the agricultural sector, it is the second-largest employer with over 400,000 people actively working in the sector, making it a key aspect of its economy.

However, it is reported that its tourism revenue in the first five months of 2020 has declined by approximately 50 percent compared with the same period in 2019. This is because hotels and resorts have not functioned as a result of lockdowns and border closures.

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