Tunisia has lost at least $515 million in tourism income following the beach attack which killed 38 people in the eastern city of Sousse in Tunisia on Friday, AFP has reported.
Tunisia’s Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik has said the government would help tourism businesses this year after the deadly attack caused thousands of tourists to flee the country.
"If tourism collapses ... the economy falls apart," she said.
Government officials fear that a second attack could devastate the Tunisian tourism industry which accounts for seven percent of the country’s GDP and employees 400,000 workers.
"We can count, at least, with regards to the impact on Gross Domestic Product [GDP], on a loss of earnings of a billion dinars [$515 million, 460 million euros]," Elloumi said.
"I think that's just the minimum, but it's still an estimate,” she added.
According to travel agencies in France, 80 percent of bookings were canceled following the attack and customers changed their holiday destinations.
In order to mitigate the damage to tourism, Elloumi told reporters that tourists will no longer have to pay a 30-dinar exit tax, a change which will come into effect after a parliamentary vote.
On Friday, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, a Tunisian identified as 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on tourists at a resort in Port El Kantaoui near Sousse before being shot dead.
Sousse is one of Tunisia's most popular beach resorts, drawing visitors from Europe and neighboring North African countries.
Most of those killed in the attack were British, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid told a news conference on Saturday.
‘’After come the Germans, then the Belgians and then other nationalities," he stated, before adding that French citizens were also among the victims.
The attack was immediately claimed by ISIS.