Tunisia lures tourists with Star Wars
When George Lucas filmed his famous space series in the desert of Tunisia, he probably didn’t envisage his now famous characters strutting their stuff down a catwalk in the country’s capital 37 years later.
And yet this is exactly what happened last week, as part of the nation’s desperate attempt to lure tourists back following a violent and widely-publicised revolution in 2011. With the lead cast of the new films having just been announced, who can blame them?
By all accounts, it was quite an event, with a variety of alien creatures present from the Empire’s henchmen – the white-clad stormtroopers to Chewbacca the Wookie. People turned out in their thousands to watch the parade.
Before the revolution dealt a serious blow to Tunisia’s tourism industry, many travelled to the desert sets that provided a convincing look for desolate planet Tatooine in five of the six films.
Ingo Kaiser, head of a Star Wars fan club in Europe, which brought the event here, commented: “We came here to Tunis to help save the Star Wars sites in Matmata and Tozeur and convince people to return to Tunisia.”
The event came about after the Tunisian National Office for Tourism contacted the fan club to propose a week-long Star Wars dedication that will hopefully demonstrate to tourists that the country and its capital is safe to visit once again.
Until the end of the week, there will be screenings of the films and many more parades featuring much-loved droids, creatures and characters.
Whether the event will bring back the touristic crowds that once thronged the streets remains to be seen, but early indications are positive.
“It created a global buzz, which makes us very happy,” said Zied Chargui, director of the National Office of Tunisian Tourism.
If there was a band of heroes more prone to getting into trouble than the likes of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, we haven’t met them. Make sure you take precautions against Imperial Stormtroopers, Star Destroyers and Death Stars and sort out your travel insurance well before you head off on holiday.