Tunis – Tunisia expects to lose at least $515m this year, or about a quarter of its estimated annual tourism earnings, following last Friday’s attack on a beach hotel that killed 39 people, mostly British holidaymakers.
The attack by a gunman on the Imperial Marhaba beach hotel in the popular resort town of Sousse came just months after militants attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis, killing 21 people, and delivering a blow to the country’s vital tourism industry.
“The attack had a great impact on the economy, the losses will be large,” Tourism Minister Salma Loumi told reporters late on Monday, giving a preliminary estimate from the Sousse attack.
The North African country earned $1.95bn in revenues from tourism last year. The sector makes up 7% of its gross domestic product and is a major source of foreign currency and employment for Tunisia.
Authorities have arrested suspects tied to the attacker, but have given few details.
Investigators are also verifying whether the attacker, a student, Saif Rezgui, spent time training in jihadist camps in neighbouring Libya. He gave few clues about his radicalization to family and friends in his hometown.
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