What Revolution? Tunisia’s New Tourism Campaign

Cheeky ads attempt to lure in skeptical visitors

There isn’t much that could be worse for a country’s tourism industry than a revolution. But Tunisia, currently limping back to life post-revolution, is making lemonade out of some seriously sour lemons. A new tourism campaign cheekily addresses potential visitors’ fears.

An image of a woman being pampered mid-massage is accompanied with the words, "They say that in Tunisia some people receive heavy-handed treatment." The ad is now prominently placed on the side of some London buses.  Paris’ metro received similar treatment with a smug ad playing on post-revolution devastation and the country's archeological sites; yes, Tunisia is “nothing but ruins.”

Creators of the campaign say they were aiming to disarm people by redefining their preconceived notions of what post-revolution Tunisia would be like. The country’s tourism minister says Tunisia is safer for tourists, despite its state of emergency, than South Africa.

The campaign comes as the tourism industry flails post upheaval. Package tourists from Europe once flocked to Tunisia for its beaches and good deals, creating a tourism industry that accounted for 6.5 percent of overall gross domestic product and employed one in five Tunisians in some capacity. After losing the steady flow of tourists the country once enjoyed from troubled neighbor Libya, Tunisia is counting on the adventuresome and deal-seeking spirit of Europe to revive a key sector of the economy.