Campaign to support Tunisian tourism takes hold on social media
Tourism official: One in five Tunisians depends on tourists to make a living
#JeSuisBardo and #PrayForTunisia are trending
“I will come to Tunisia.”
It’s a bold pledge, some might say.
But people across the globe are making that vow despite the deadly attack in the Tunis on Wednesday. Twenty-three people, most of them tourists, were killed after gunmen opened fire inside the Bardo Museum, a stone’s throw from the parliament building.
The “I will come to Tunisia” social media campaign is aimed at protecting the North African nation’s tourism industry – which is critical to the country’s economy. The social media campaign features users holding up signs saying they will travel to the North African country.
“I will travel to Tunisia this summer,” reads a sign held up by a girl from China.
A Dutch man’s paper says: “Heroes! I will visit Tunisia and celebrate your Independence Day.”
Tens of thousands of people online have expressed support and solidarity with #JeSuisBardo (“I am Bardo”), #JeSuisTunisien (“I am Tunisian”), and #PrayForTunisia trending on Twitter.
Some one in five Tunisians rely on tourism for their living, the nation’s tourism minister said in 2013. Travel warnings in place in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries could cripple Tunisia’s economy.
It’s a fresh wound after a painful few years in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
Visits to the country dropped significantly after the unrest of the 2010-2011 Jasmine Revolution, but the numbers had been bouncing back before the museum attack.
Djaziri Mohamed Taher is running a “solidarity campaign” soliciting pro-Tunisia posts on his Instagram site. As of Friday more than 60 people had posted selfies with messages affirming that they will visit Tunisia.
Taher, 24, said he “wanted to show the world that tourism in Tunisia is not dead but, on the contrary it is the time to visit Tunisia because it’s secured and [such a] beautiful country.”
“My message to the world is that Tunisia is the most beautiful place on earth and that not a stupid act like this can destroy the Tunisian tourism,” Taher said.
An online advertisement to visit Tunisia, posted long before the attacks, shows people holding hands at some of Tunisia’s most treasured landmarks. Human chains form across beaches, mountains, ancient ruins, the desert.
The message: “All united to welcome you.”
This week, those words were repeated in social media.
A Tunisian woman on the #IWillComeToTunisia Twitter site holds a sign: “Welcome To Tunisia. We are not terrorists,” followed by the hashtag #notafraid.
In this online campaign, fear itself is the enemy.
Sayida Ounissi, a Tunisian lawmaker who was evacuated from the parliament building during the attack, spoke to that on Wednesday, tweeting: “We are not afraid.”