FIJET Academy of Young Journalists in Tourism, 2023 Edition, Tunisia

FIJET Academy of Young Journalists in Tourism, 2023 Edition, Tunisia

Under the guidance of the FIJET organization (International Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers), the FIJET Academy Committee annually organizes the FIJET Academy of Young Travel Journalists, a program that offers young people passionate about writing the opportunity to discover new cultures and create connections with other participants in a developing tourist destination through a harmonious blending of tourism seminars and on-spot learning. Organized in a different location from one year to another, the 2023 edition of the FIJET Academy took place from September 3rd to 9th in Tunisia with the topic of sustainable tourism, covering seminars such as “A Niche in Journalism: Travel Writing” and “The important qualities of an effective travel writing” (Prof. F. Sema Kutlu), “Content marketing in Media” (Prof. Ludmila Novacka), “Sustainable tourism and the role of youth in sustainable tourism” (Prof. Gabriela Tigu), “How to write a reportage” (Prof. Petra Somek) and “The importance of hospitality industry in the development of Sustainable tourism” (Prof. Amelia Tomasevic). 16 students from Croatia, Egypt, France, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Romania, and Tunisia participated in this training program, Romania being represented by Emilia Batros, Radu George Baciu, and Tudor Alexandru Panait.

Tunisia reported a full recovery from the effects of the global COVID-19 

The President of FIJET, Mr. Tijani Haddad, welcomed warmly the arrival of FIJET Academy participants in Tunisia and made considerable efforts for the students to discover the local culture and customs. Thus, the latest edition of the FIJET Academy in Tunisia hosted the program participants in Hotel Africa in Tunis and Hotel Marina Palace in Hammamet. With 1,300 km of coastal area and many archaeological sites, Tunisia is a country where tourism has an important contribution to the gross domestic product, over 16 percent in the years before the pandemic. In August 2023, Tunisia reported a full recovery from the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, counting as many tourist arrivals as the pre-pandemic levels. Dependent on air transport accessibility for the development of tourism, Tunisia has as a common goal with the neighboring states, to create a pleasant experience for visitors to Arab countries, relying on the diversification of the tourism product and on the cultural positioning of Tunisia.

Tourism Goal of Tunisia 2035: 15 Million Tourist Arrivals

As a result of the intense economic activities that have generated the amplification of climate change’s effects, sustainable tourism has become a priority for the hospitality industry and related sectors. Because of this, FIJET Academy encourages students to discover unique tourist destinations to report on and make valuable connections with tourism officials to help preserve tourism infrastructure in areas with tourism potential. As a result, the first day of the Academy was held in Tunis, where the lecturers and students were welcomed by the Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Moez Belhassine. On this occasion, the government official emphasized the importance of tourism for Tunisia’s economic development, since more than 6 million tourist arrivals were reported for the previous year. With a coherent strategy, the Ministry of Tourism of Tunisia aims to increase the number of arrivals to 15 million tourists by 2035 and, in the same period of time, to multiply by 4 times the tourism revenues.

Now is the time for FIJET Academy Trips in Tunisia

The visits to tourist sites started with the Medina of Tunis, where the students had the opportunity to admire the grand houses and palaces that belonged to the wealthy people of the Kasbah district. At the same time, the façades of the houses, which ensured the privacy of the inhabitants, and the stories behind the specially decorated doors were very attractive. As the FIJET Academy focuses on the practical aspect of the learning process, the participants were led to an area that functioned as a market, where hats, perfumes, and carpets, along with copper and leather items, were crafted since ancient times, all of them in a place that also marked the abolition of slavery. The most attractive moment of the day was watching the manufacturing process of the traditional Tunisian red hat, handled with agility by a local craftsman. Next, the FIJET Academy visited Sidi Bou Said, the city of residence of many famous writers, painters, and artists, where the young journalists walked on the streets paved with cubic stone and admired the houses painted in white and blue. Known for its picturesque backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, Sidi Bou Said was the spot where the FIJET Academy participants first tasted the sweetened mint tea, a defining element of Tunisia, used in Tunisian culture as a symbol of hospitality and served throughout the day.

After the relocation of the FIJET Academy to Hammamet, the young travel writers set off to visit the city of Sousse, the third-largest metropolitan area of Tunisia and one of the most important tourist attractions. Among the most impressive locations were the Sousse Archaeological Museum, which hosts a breath-taking collection of mosaic paintings depicting mythological scenes, and, just a few minutes away, El Kantaoui Port, where visitors could see luxury hotels and huge yachts, along with a golf course that ensures the success of Tunisian tourism in that area. At the same time, the FIJET Academy participants entered the door of a private radio station, Jawhara FM, watching with admiration what the infrastructure necessary for radio transmission is made of and how a live radio broadcast is operated. Moreover, the sunset found the young travel writers of the FIJET Academy in Monastir, a location that completes the ranking of the most popular Tunisian resorts on the Mediterranean Sea, along with Sousse and Hammamet. Monastir is recognized for its numerous spa centers, so the FIJET Academy participants had the opportunity to discover the rooms where tourists come to enjoy massage sessions, hammam, sauna, swimming pool, and various other treatments in a luxurious atmosphere.

The end of the schedule proposed for the 2023 edition of the FIJET Academy in Hammamet was spectacular, thanks to the scenery at the Uthina Archaeological Site, where the students walked among the ruins of the former Roman colony, feeling the ancient atmosphere through the images of an amphitheater, a capitol, and an aqueduct. The lunch strengthened the bond created between FIJET Academy participants and Tunisian culture, as the meal was served in a traditional house in Jebel El Ouest, where the young journalists enjoyed delicious dishes of rotisserie chicken and oven-baked lamb, served alongside couscous, chickpeas and various salads, but also the dessert based on fruit, dates, and traditional Tunisian cakes, all in the shade of the olive trees and palm trees from the vast garden. Thus, Tunisian gastronomy is original and enticing, the clearest example of this being the Brik pastry product, similar to a puff pastry filled with tuna, egg, cheese, and parsley, cooked and served in the shape of a triangle, seasoned with lime juice.

by 2023 Alumni, Radu BACIU


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