Tu­nisian Am­bas­sador wel­comes Chi­nese tourists and in­vestors

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - EMBASSY - By Yin Yeping

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.

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Tu­nisian Am­bas­sador to China Dhia Khaled

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