Monday, August 01, 2005

Tunisia welcomes Israeli holidaymakers

"In the 1990s, Israeli tourists came to Tunisia primarily to see the homes from where their families had emigrated. At a later stage, they came to visit the Berber communities built underground and to paraglide over the Sahara dunes, and today they can visit Tunisia simply for a relaxing holiday. As of this year, Tunisia is marketing itself to Israelis as a tranquil vacation spot", according to Haaretz.

"If an Israeli citizen had arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in the 1980s and said he was off to Tunis, he would have been arrested immediately by passport control police. In those days, the headquarters of the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, were located there, and Tunis was associated with Arab capitals most hostile to Israel: Damascus, Baghdad and Beirut. Today, the Foreign Ministry is mostly concerned about Israelis who regard Tunisia as quite close and accessible, and consider a visit to the country as a given. "The most important thing is that people don't just randomly get on a plane and show up," says the head of the ministry's North African desk, Yigal Palmor. "The main problems we have encountered so far with trips to Tunisia have been with people who traveled there without making sure to get a visa in advance." Read article in full

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