The new government of Tunisia is targeting visitors with a marketing campaign from the Tunisian National Tourist Office (TNTO). The smallest nation in North Africa has seen a turbulent 12 months of a successful revolution, a newly elected government and democracy.
Part of the multi-media campaign targets British visitors, as the UK is now the third most important market. One focus is on health tourism, particularly 40 luxurious hotels with thalassotherapy centres.
The recent political strife virtually halted the country’s medical tourism offerings. The main attraction is cosmetic surgery, but dental treatment, hip and knee surgery, stem cell treatment and other services are all on offer.
According to a report ‘Medical Tourism in Tunisia’ by the University of Carthage, much of the background global material refers to 2006 and 2007 figures, plus various studies that are now either out of date or discredited.
Using 2009 and 2010 data, Tunisia attracted over 16,000 medical tourists from Europe in 2010 and around 15,000 in 2009; including 9,000 from France, and smaller numbers from the UK, Germany, Italy and Belgium.
The major source of patients in 2009 was over 100,000 from Libya and another 60,000 from Algeria, Morocco and various African countries.
The figures are not necessarily indicative of future potential with 2011 being forgettable, 2009 and 2010 affected by problems in Europe, 2010 figures hit by the start of the political turmoil, the Libyan revolution. The report suggests a total of 176,000 medical tourists in 2010, but gives no source for either the totals or sub-totals.
The health ministry has a target of 300,000 medical tourists in 2012, but as total tourism in 2011 fell by half, getting anywhere near that figure when each of its markets has problems is difficult. For the time being at least, Libya as a source has almost dried up, while the economy means fewer Europeans are travelling for treatment. But, with many competitors in Africa and the Middle East having their own serious problems deterring medical tourists, Tunisia could be neatly placed between Africa, Europe and the Middle East to attract medical tourists who may prefer a safe haven.