Five reasons Muslim travellers are flocking to Tunisia again

Travel
Scenic view at the seaside cafe in the town of Sidi Bou Said. Sidi Bou Said is a town in northern Tunisia located about 20 km from the capital, Tunis. Getty Images/Max shen

 

In 2015, two horrific terror attacks made Tunisia a no-go for travellers, but three years later, tourists are beginning to rediscover what made it such a popular halal travel destination.

Two major international tour operators, Thomas Cook and TUI, have already started bringing holidaymakers, and according to the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism, the number of travellers from Europe has increased by 20 percent and from OIC and neighbouring Muslim countries by 31 percent.

So why are tourists returning in droves to the once-leading Muslim-friendly travel destination?

1. AMAZING ISLAMIC HERITAGE

Home to several North African Muslim dynasties through the ages, Tunisia is blessed with a stunning Muslim heritage.

Leading the way is the UNESCO World Heritage city of Kairouan, centred around the Great Mosque of Kairouan. This holy city was once the capital of the Aghlabid dynasty, who also built the impressive forts in Sousse and Monastir. In Tunis, the UNESCO-listed 7th-century Medina spirals out from the blissfully peaceful Zaytouna Mosque.

Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia

Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia. Getty Images/ Sami Sarkis

 

Nearby are stunning Ottoman-era madrasahs, fitting for a city that gave us the great Ibn Khaldun. The capital is also home to the fabled 9th-century “Blue Quran” at the Bardo Museum, which is inside a stunning early medieval Husseinite Bey’s house.

2. HALAL DESTINATION

Prior to the 2015 terrorist attacks, Tunisia was riding high in the halal travel rankings (11th in the Global Muslim Travel Index), and rightly so. With an almost entirely Muslim population, this is a country where Muslim travellers will be completely at ease. Food is halal, mosques are aplenty, facilities are family-friendly, and everyone is sensitive to the needs of Muslims of all persuasions.

3. NO CROWDS

Tunisia is gradually winning back the large numbers of travellers it used to get, but right now, those who do visit know they are virtually guaranteed to avoid the crowds. So whilst others are deliberating the pros and cons, braver travellers are enjoying Tunisia’s stunning beaches and world-class historic ruins, like the Roman amphitheatre at El Djem.

4. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Service providers in Tunisia have lowered their prices as they try to entice tourists back to the country. With most tour operators passing this to the customer, there hasn’t been a better time to grab an all-inclusive package at rock-bottom prices. In addition, the rate of the Tunisian dinar continues to drop, meaning you’ll get much more for your money in Tunisia when you eat out, pay for an excursion or do a bit of shopping.

5. BRILLIANT BAZAARS

Tourists walking in a market in Tunisia

Tourists walking in a market in Tunisia. Getty Images

 

Speaking of shopping, like any good North African nation, Tunisia has always been blessed with amazing bazaars. The biggest and best are in the medieval medinas of Tunis, Sousse and Kairouan, where tourists can lose themselves in an explosion of colours, scents and flavours as hawkers draw their attention to locally made products, including leather goods, carved wooden furniture, and oriental lanterns.

(Reporting by Tharik Hussain; Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@thomsonreuters.com)

 

(Tharik Hussain is a freelance travel writer, journalist and award-winning broadcaster who specialises in Muslim heritage and Muslim travel. Tharik is a Muslim Destination Guide Writer for travel giant Lonely Planet and is currently working on his debut travel book about a journey in search of ‘Muslim Europe’.)

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