Tourism in Tunisia should recover quickly: UN

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Tunisia's tourist industry should quickly recover from political unrest wracking the country, the head of the UN World Tourism Organisation said Monday.

"We have every indication and every reason to believe that Tunisia will be very quickly -- actually much quicker that people expect -- able to go back on track," said the UN World Tourism Organisation's Secretary General Taleb Rifai.

Tour operators have evacuated thousands of vacationers from Tunisia after a wave of unrest forced the president from power and left the popular tourist destination reeling.

The north African country was to unveil a new government of national unity on Monday as the interim leadership struggled to impose order and fill a power vacuum after the ouster of veteran leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

"We are of course watching closely what is happening Tunisia. Tunisia is a very important tourism destination," Rifai told a news conference called to announce the UNWTO's world tourism figures for 2010.

Rifai noted that tourists left "in a speedy and regular manner", but many said they would return once the situation returns to normal.

"The history, the infrastructure and the stakeholders in Tunisia are entrenched enough to be able to recover rather quickly," he said.

"Of course, how quick this would be is very much dependent on the political developments that are unfolding," he said, noting that a new government is to be annnounced and new elections held.

"As far as tourism is concerned, we think that in the medium term, not the long term, Tunisia will come back to what it was."

© 2011 AFP

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