Tunisia hopes to save its tourism season, as it will ease COVID-19 measures

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TUNIS, March 5 (Reuters) – Tunisia said on Friday it hoped to save its economically vital summer tourism season as it announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions including quarantine measures, a curfew and a ban on travel between regions.

The Tunisian economy shrank 8.8% last year, the largest contraction in the country’s history due, to the effects of the crisis on vital sectors such as tourism, aviation and export.

“With these new measures, the vision has become more clear to travel tour operators… I think that the season can start in May and June because reservations will start from now,” Mohamed Ammar, the tourism minister, told reporters.

He added that, with the start of a big vaccination campaign expected next week, Tunisia would be able to save the tourist season.

The health ministry said on Friday it would ease a nighttime curfew, cancel quarantine for visitors and end a ban on movement between cities from March 8.

Tunisia’s tourism revenue plunged by 65% in 2020, compared with 2019, to around $746 million.

Travel restrictions and the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world led most hotels in Tunisia to close and tens of thousands of workers in the tourism sector lost their jobs. (Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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