Tunisian Ambassador welcomes Chinese tourists and investors
Attracting more Chinese tourists to Tunisia is one of the top priorities of the newly appointed Tunisian Ambassador to China Dhia Khaled ( Khaled). His goal for 2017 is to draw more than 20,000 Chinese tourists to his country.
The ambassador is also looking to enhance Chinese investment in Tunisia, and over 140 projects have been made available to foreign investors. As the leading country in Sino-Arabic relations, Tunisia is now working to welcome more Chinese tourists and investors. Khaled shared his vision for future bilateral ties with the Global Times (GT).
GT: What was your first connection with China?
Khaled: The rst time I visited China was with the delegation led by the Tunisian Minister of Commerce in 2000. Now, 16 years later, I am discovering a country with tremendous development capacity. China has succeeded in establishing an open, competitive and diversified economy while developing some of the most advanced technology. I think we can learn a lot from China.
GT: Tunisia is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. How can the two countries work together on climate change? Khaled: I participated in some United Nations meetings on climate change. Like China, Tunisia is doing its best to tackle climate change challenges. We have xed some objectives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, better management of our water resources, and capacity building. I observed that China is doing its utmost to deal with air pollution. I believe that China and Tunisia both have good experiences that we can share.
GT: The Tunisian government announced that they will invest 2 billion dinars ($1 billion) in the renewable energy power generation sector. Will Chinese companies be a part of this?
Khaled: Let me rst tell you some gures. Now the energy mix in Tunisia is around one percent. Our objective is to reach 30 percent energy mix by 2030. We are planning to produce 1,000 megawatts in renewable energy by 2020 and have 1,200 more between 2020 and 2025.
The reason for this investment is to guarantee the availability of energy and ensure our sustainable economic growth because we are currently importing a part of our energy.
GT: How do you plan to draw more Chinese tourists to Tunisia?
Khaled: Tourism is one of the most fundamental sectors in the Tunisian economy. It contributes to the rate of employment, GDP growth and foreign currency reserve. Tunisia is one of the most famous and attractive destinations in the Mediterranean region, and we are convinced of the big potential in the Chinese tourism market. Therefore, the Tunisian government has offered visa-exemption to Chinese tourists. I am optimistic about the future of Chinese outbound tourism to Tunisia because in 2016 the growth rate of Chinese tourists was around 110 percent, and in the rst six weeks of this year, it was about 400 percent compared to the same period last year.
We also have accelerated training programs for Chinese-speaking tour guides in Tunisia and are working on establishing a direct ight between China and Tunisia.
GT: How will you ensure tourist safety?
Khaled: Tunisia has a well-established security level now. It’s true that we faced dif cult moments in 2015, but I want to stress that terrorism is a global problem. It has no nationality, no religion, and no identity. It can hit anywhere. The entire international community is concerned about it, and we share the same position with the Chinese government on this matter. Last year, we strengthened our security, and the number of tourists coming to Tunisia grew substantially in 2016 compared to 2015. I can assure you that Tunisia is a really safe tourism destination.
GT: What is your goal for 2017 in China?
Khaled: I am working hard to ensure the success of Tunisian participation in the upcoming Belt and Road Summit in May. It’s a very important initiative. Tunisia was an important part of the old Silk Road, and we cannot be absent from this new and important initiative. Also, I am working to ensure the full success of Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui’s visit to Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Tunisian Ambassador to China Dhia Khaled