00:53 GMT03 June 2020
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    Tunisia ranks first among foreign travel destinations of the Russian tourists in January-May 2016 and expects to host over half a million of Russian holidaymakers by the end of the year, Tunisian Ambassador to Russia Ali Goutali told Sputnik on Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — He added that 2016 is going to be "a record braking year in regard to a number of Russian tourists who visited Tunisia."

    “Tunisia ranks first among other favorite travel destinations for the Russian tourists. A significant increase was recorded during the first five months of 2016 comparing to the last year as well as 2013, when a record number of 300,000 tourists from Russia traveled to Tunisia. This year we are expecting to host over half a million of Russian tourists,“ Ali Goutali said.

    Goutali told Sputnik in February that the number of Russian tourists who visited Tunisia in 2015 fell nearly fivefold comparing with the previous year data after a number of terrorist attacks in the North African country. He also stressed that Tunisia could benefit from tourism ties with Russia in view of the travel restrictions that Russia imposed on Egypt and Turkey.

    The Tunisian island of Djerba and the coastal town of Zarzis, popular tourist destinations located near the Libyan border, are protected from the potential terrorist threat as well as other resorts throughout the country, Ali Goutali said.

    "Tourist security and safety remains our utmost priority.  In collaboration with some western countries, Tunisia has recently undertaken very strict measures matching the European standards to secure airports, tourist resorts, hotels and entertainment areas, including on the Djerba island and in the city of Zarzis,” Ali Goutali  said stressing that “Tunisia has secured its border with Libya after the last year terror acts.”

    According to Goutali, Tunisia plans to resume direct flight to Moscow at the end of June to facilitate the increased tourist flow from Russia.

    “The direct flight from Moscow by Tunisair will be resumed very soon, by the end of this month. We have a representative of the company who has arrived to Moscow and who is working on it these days,” Goutali said, explaining that the carrier had a direct flight that was canceled over two years ago and "now it will be resumed to expand tourism.”

    Russia imposed a ban on flights to and from Egypt after a Russian-operated Airbus A321 crashed on October 31 en route from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg as a result of an explosion on board, killing all 224 passengers. Daesh, outlawed in Russia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    In March 2015, a group of gunmen dressed in military uniforms opened fire on tourists at the Tunisian National Bardo Museum near the parliament building in Tunis, killing 22. In June, a lone gunman concealed an assault rifle in an umbrella and fired at tourists on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, killing 38. Daesh jihadist group claimed responsibility for both attacks.


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