2014-2015 Colloquium Series
The Tourism Studies Working Group
and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
are pleased to announce
IS TOURISM GOOD FOR TUNISIA?
Dr. Laurence Michalak
(PhD Cultural Anthropology, UC Berkeley 1983)
Friday, November 7, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Seminar Room, 2251 College (Archeological Research Facility)
University of California, Berkeley
Tunisia began building luxury tourist hotels in the early 1960s, soon after
independence. The balmy weather, sandy beaches, tasty cuisine and rich
archaeological sites seemed to offer great potential for attracting tourists-and
for bringing in foreign currency and creating jobs. There was steady expansion
of the hotel infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986 the government
initiated a program of tax incentives that accelerated hotel investment even
further. By 2008 Tunisia was receiving 7 million tourists per year and tourism
was providing 7% of Tunisia's GDP and directly employing 400,000 people, plus
more than a million more indirectly. With the world recession in 2008, however,
Tunisian tourism faltered. Then followed the Arab Spring in 2011, and political
unrest in the region made things even worse, with the number of European tourists
to Tunisia falling by more than half. Many Tunisians began to question whether
investing in tourism is a good thing. This presentation analyzes the case of
Tunisia, weighs the positives and negatives of tourism, and suggests an answer.
Laurence Michalak (PhD cultural anthropology, UC Berkeley 1983) was Vice Chair of
UC/Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies for 23 years, retiring in 2002.
Since then he has continued to be active in North African scholarship. He has
spent more than a decade in Tunisia, from five years of Peace Corps service in
the 1960s to four months of field research earlier this year. He has extensive
experience in tourism, having been a faculty host and lecturer for 15 tour groups
abroad for the California Alumni Association, including two tours of Tunisia.