Folk hospitality draws growing number of Chinese tourists to Tunisia
"I happened to come across a big strike during my holiday in Tunisia, but I cherish the unique experience because of the lovely Tunisian people," said Zhang Haiou, a tourist from Beijing.
Zhang said that she came to Tunisia for a self-guided one-week tour with her friends in February. However, their return flight to Beijing was canceled because of a big local strike. Fortunately for them, their Tunisian driver Lutfe invited them to his home in the coastal city of Hammamet in eastern Tunisia.
Zhang's panic gradually faded when more than 20 family members, old and young, from Lutfe's home warmly welcomed them, preparing dozens of dishes, various sweets and tea.
The unexpected experience enabled Zhang to discover that the family values of the Tunisians are quite similar to those of the Chinese.
Scenic view at the town of Sidi Bou Said near Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. /VCG Photo

Scenic view at the town of Sidi Bou Said near Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. /VCG Photo

"They respect the elderly, and all brothers and sisters help each other and get along well," Zhang said.
"The harmonious family reunion makes me recall my childhood with my family," she added.
Tunisia, a North African country, boasts a history of more than 3,000 years. Bordering the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea, the country is renowned for its rich tourism resources.
Tunisia has become an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists, with 27,900 Chinese arrivals in Tunisia in 2018, according to data from the Tunisian government.
Tunisia began to offer visa-free entry to Chinese tourists in 2017, the year that saw the number of Chinese tourists rocket to around 20,000 from 12,000 in 2016.
Amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia. /VCG Photo

Amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia. /VCG Photo

The increasing number of Chinese tourists also brings opportunities to local Tunisians. Najwah, a Tunisian college student, has worked as a part-time waiter in a Chinese restaurant for over one year.
"Gradually I've gotten in touch with many Chinese tourists. Through talking with them, I have become quite interested in Chinese culture," said Najwah.
The Tunisian girl said she will choose a job with Chinese elements after graduation.
The number of local Tunisians dining in the Chinese restaurant already exceed that of Chinese tourists, said Huang Cong, the Chinese manager of a privately-owned restaurant.
An aerial view of Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. /VCG Photo

An aerial view of Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. /VCG Photo

"At first, our main target is Chinese tourist groups as I didn't expect that Tunisians love Chinese dishes so much," said Huang.
Most Tunisian customers would like to know the Chinese pronunciation of each dish, such as Kung Pao Chicken, and try to use Chinese chopsticks, according to Huang.
Wang Wenbin, the Chinese ambassador to Tunisia, said tourism is one of the prioritized sectors of cooperation between China and Tunisia.
Karim Jatlaoui, the representative of Tunisian National Tourism Office Beijing Bureau, expected the number of Chinese tourists to Tunisia to increase to 50,000 by 2020.
According to the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts, Tunisia endeavors to draw more Chinese tourists by upgrading payment methods, setting up Chinese logos, launching direct flights, and operating more Chinese restaurants to make Chinese visitors' trips in Tunisia more convenient and enjoyable.
(Cover: Amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia. /VCG Photo)
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency