Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tunisia - an act of economic sabotage as well as murder

Another off topic post - it seems to be a week for it.

I had a holiday in Tunisia a couple of years ago.  Two families with young children had a great time in Monastir - down the coast from Sousse where the terrorist attack happened. 

It is shocking to think of such terrible things happening to holiday makers, particularly on a Friday during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

Tunisia is sandwiched between Libya and Algeria, both deeply troubled countries with long term problems - but cushioned (or encouraged) by oil wealth.  Tunisia is small and depends very much on its tourist economy to support its new democracy after years of a money grabbing dictator (and I mean that literally: he is reported to have taken gold bullion with him on his flight to exile in Jeddah).  The attacks were not just on western holidaymakers, but on the Tunisian economy.  The intention is to cut off funds from tourism, impoverishing all Tunisians, and creating a suitable environment for more radicalisation (i.e. poverty).

I wish all the holidaymakers well, but also the vast majority of the Tunisian people who need our support through our visits and foreign exchange.  And there is plenty to see - as well as the Mediterranean, there are wonderful Roman remains (including of the city they built on the legendary Phoenician city of Carthage, and the pictured arena at El Jem).  When you judge it safe, I hope you will go visit.  Maybe even this year.  There are risks everywhere, and Tunisia needs the solidarity of the West, not us turning our backs and leaving them to their fate.

From the procurement point of view - this creates an interesting problem for the travel companies.  They have many holidaymakers who will want to rearrange their holidays, and the travel companies will be keen to do so in order to maintain their income.  But where? Greece has its own problems at the moment.  Turkey being a (safe and beautiful) Muslim country will not appeal to many holidaymakers.   Same applies to Egypt and the lovely Sharm el Sheikh, and to Morrocco (though I prefer the wonders of Marrakech to the beaches).  Will the hotels in Spain be cranking up their prices and looking for a windfall?  Are the travel company buyers in a position to bargain?  Can they extract moderation this year in return for promises for next year?    It will be interesting to see.

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