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Terror attacks force 70 Tunisian hotels to close

Collapsing tourist demand in Tunisia as a result of two terrorist attacks earlier in the year has led to the closure of 70 hotels.

Radhouane Ben Saleh, chairman of the Tunisian Hotel Federation, told Mosaique FM radio at the weekend that Tunisia's hotels were currently operating at just 20 percent of their maximum capacity, and as a result 70 of Tunisia's 600 hotels have had to close this year due to falling demand.

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Tourists have shunned the North African country after a pair of attacks by militant Islamists. In March, 21 tourists visiting the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia's capital city were killed by a gunman. Then in June, a further 38 people, including 30 British tourists, were killed by a lone terrorist at the beach resort in Sousse.

As of September, the number of tourists visiting Tunisia had fallen 20 percent compared to the year before, according to Reuters.

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Tunisia is reliant upon the tourism industry, which makes up around 7 percent of the country's economy, but the government has had to cut its economic growth forecast for 2015 from 3 percent to 0.5 percent as a result of the decline.

Ben Saleh added that the government would provide six months of increased benefits, including an extra 200 Tunisian dinars ($102) to hotel workers made redundant by the tourism industry's decline.

Tunisia's tourism industry is likely to continue to suffer. Last month, British travel operator Thomas Cook, which in July expected to lose £25 million ($38 million) in earnings because of the crisis, said that Tunisia was "effectively closed", while the U.K. Foreign Office still advises "against all but essential travel" to the country.

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