Tunisia’s tourism revenue plunged by 65% in 2020 compared to 2019, to around $746 million, official figures showed on Thursday, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the country’s economy.

In 2020, the number of visitors fell by 78%, as western tourists deserted Tunisia’s hotels and resorts, a government official told Reuters. Tunisia had received a record 9.5 million visitors in 2019.

The contraction of Tunisia’s economy is expected to be at least 7% in 2020 as a result of the loss of revenue from tourism, which accounts for about 8% of GDP and is a major source of foreign currency.

Central bank data showed that tourism revenues fell to 2 billion Tunisian dinars ($746 million), compared to 5.6 billion dinars the previous year.

Travel restrictions and the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world led most hotels in Tunisia to close and tens of thousands in the tourism sector lost their jobs, which prompted the government to announce facilities in loans to hotel owners. ($1 = 2.6811 Tunisian dinars)

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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