Tu­nisian town at­tracts flocks of tourists with desert fes­ti­val

Global Times - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

On the ter­race of a two-floor Dar El Souk cafe, lo­cated in the heart of Douz town in south­ern Tu­nisia, lo­cal uni­ver­sity stu­dents were drink­ing cof­fee, while en­joy­ing the tra­di­tional Sa­hara dance per­for­mances.

On the souk square, the folk bands wear­ing farmla jack­ets and balga shoes, the tra­di­tional clothes of the Sa­hara re­gion, played folk mu­sic to the cheers of au­di­ence.

Wang Wenkai, a 30-year-old Chi­nese tourist, said th­ese “ex­otic” per­for­mances en­abled di­rect in­ter­ac­tion with “the tra­di­tional life and cus­toms of the Sa­hara” as well as “the en­thu­si­asm of the desert peo­ple.”

The 51st Douz In­ter­na­tional Sa­hara Fes­ti­val kicked off on De­cem­ber 20 in the small Tu­nisian town of Douz, and is ex­pected to at­tract 50,000 tourists to the town.

Bach­toula Bechir, spokesper­son of the fes­ti­val, told the Xin­hua News Agency that more than 20,000 vis­i­tors at­tended the cel­e­bra­tion ac­tiv­i­ties on the first day.

“There are cul­tural per­for­mances such as no­madic tra­di­tional songs and dances, tra­di­tional wed­ding cer­e­monies, tra­di­tional sports such as camel fight­ing, horse rac­ing and Slougui hunt­ing [dog hunt­ing], as well as tra­di­tional crafts and lo­cal food ex­hi­bi­tions,” said Sami Bel­jaj, di­rec­tor of the fes­ti­val’s or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to Tu­nisian Cul­ture Min­is­ter Mo­hamed Zine El-Abidine, the world-fa­mous an­nual in­ter­na­tional desert fes­ti­val has great sig­nif­i­cance.

It not only helps pro­tect the tra­di­tional life and cul­ture of the Sa­hara re­gion in south­ern Tu­nisia, but also at­tracts for­eign tourists, pro­motes tourism and cre­ates more job op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal res­i­dents, he said.

This fes­ti­val, orig­i­nally a no­madic camel fes­ti­val in the early 20th cen­tury, has now de­vel­oped into an in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val, at­tract­ing a large num­ber of tourists each year to the Sa­hara re­gion.

Bai Guang­ming, cul­tural coun­selor at the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Tu­nisia, said the Douz fes­ti­val also holds great charm for Chi­nese tourists.

“Since Tu­nisia be­gan of­fer­ing visa-free en­try to Chi­nese tourists last year, more Chi­nese vis­i­tors have come to this North African coun­try,” said Bai.

“Douz in the Sa­hara re­gion has be­come a must-visit place for Chi­nese tourists,” he added.

Mean­while, Bechir said his coun­try wel­comes “more Chi­nese tourists to come and dis­cover the beau­ti­ful land­scape of the Sa­hara and the tra­di­tional cul­ture of the re­gion.”

“This fes­ti­val brings suc­cess­ful busi­ness and we have re­ceived cus­tomers from all over the world, in­clud­ing Ger­many, Italy, France and China,” Mo­hamed Ghar­sailla, a 32-year-old waiter from the Dar El Souk cafe, said.

“Douz has re­ally be­come an in­ter­na­tional tourism town and we feel proud and happy.”

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