#JeSuisBardo – How Twitter promises to revive Tunisia
If Twitter users hold themselves to their word, the Tunisian tourism industry is to rise again
When the world looks back in history, it will look at Tunisia in pride for the strength the Tunisians showed throughout the Arab Spring. This week’s attack in Tunisia’s Bardo Museum, that tragically left 23 people dead, was a reminder of what is important in a country still reforming itself: strength and resilience.
While the country was quick to respond to the attack, many feared what this would mean for its tourism industry, which makes up over 15% of its income. Twitter users responded with hope as they vowed to visit Tunisia this summer, despite the stigma.
Strength and resilience is a two-way street
Strength and resilience is exactly what the Tunisian people showed when they forced governmental change during the Jasmine Revolution. Strength and resilience is not what the Tunisian economy has been through since – with a GDP drop and a significant slump in the tourism industry
If Twitter users hold themselves to their word, the Tunisian tourism industry is to rise againYara al-Wazir
The United Nations World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, strongly condemned the attack on Tunisia, as did the online social media community. Echoing the hashtag that came about after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris earlier this year, #JeSuisBardo trended on various social media websites, including Twitter.
The international community, with its support to fight the stigma that could potentially be attached to tourism in Tunisia, has mirrored the strength and resilience shown by Tunisia’s people.
Egypt can all take a leaf out of Tunisia’s book
Egypt’s tourism industry has also taken a major hit since the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of tourists staying in Egyptian resorts fell by as much as 35% - an astounding figure. What is even more astounding is a statement made recently by the Egyptian government in which it expressed its intention to decrease the number of visas on arrival for lone travellers who make up 25% of the tourists visiting the country.
Neighbouring countries can all take a leaf out of Tunisia’s book to encourage tourism in their countries. Tourism in Egypt accounts for 15% of the country’s GDP – with beautiful beaches, a rich history and ongoing food festivals, it is a tourists dream.
Those who took to social media to promise to visit Tunisia this summer are likely to be lone travellers. The term is used to describe people who do not book trips as part of groups, or through an agency, but rather on their own. These are usually young people who are looking for cheap independent deals. If anything, it boosts the tourism industry more as it creates a stronger traveling feel for the tourists – staying in local hotels or with extended friends, instead of internationally-owned resorts.
Social media is a reminder of what is good in the world
Lately it seems that whenever the world experiences hardship, Twitter and social media remind us that the global society is inherently good. Without the negativities and stigmas associated with the coverage of these attacks, social media provides a raw and truthful response to tragedies.
If Twitter users hold themselves to their word, the Tunisian tourism industry is to rise again. With over 100,000 tweets with the hashtag, it’s a symbol of much needed hope for the future.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir