Vacations in North Africa in 2013 seem to be a sophisticated travel secret. Let's face it: The dollar is weaker today than at any time since the late 1970s. This means that if we travel outside the US, our vacation budgets will buy us less abroad than we like. A convenient hotel near Mayfair in London these days can easily earn $ 500 a night. And you would pay even more in Paris or Rome. Who can afford it? Is there anywhere in the world affordable, luxurious, with interesting sites to visit, mouth-watering cuisine, luxury hotels, embalming climate, but that didn't go wrong?
You bet there are! North Africa is the destination of choice for well-informed people who want to live the good life at a low cost. From Morocco to Tunisia to Algeria, you'll find the best holidays of 2013 available anywhere on the planet. You can enjoy 5-star dining in Tunisia, visit the charming boughs of Marrakech and Fez, take a stroll on the exotic and uninhabited beaches along the thousand-year coast of South Honey while enjoying windsurfing and diving in warm, inviting waters and all this in a year-round climate that rivals that of Santa Barbara, California. Best of all, it will cost you far less than a US-based vacation of lower quality and comfort.
Once you are in North Africa, if you feel entrepreneurial (and rich enough) to spend a day or two in Europe, you can easily do it for minimal airfare. Tunisia is closer to Rome by air than Los Angeles is to San Francisco. We forget how small the Mediterranean basin is because we think of it in terms of ancient history – Roman galleys and sailing ships. In this modern world, you can zip all around Med via air quickly and cheaply.
Why is North Africa such a deal this year? This is partly due to exchange rates, but it may have more to do with the selective nature of the options available to travelers who are both smart and enterprising.
Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria are the three destinations that provide the optimal combination of diversity, comfort and safety. It is tragic that Libya's tourism industry was only just beginning before the revolution that overthrew the nation's quixotic dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and is yet to recover. Just like 150,000 tourists visited the ancient Greek and Roman ruins of Libya and its breathtaking landscapes of the Sahara Desert in 2006 before the problems entered, and the entire nation even then had only about 10,000 hotel beds.
In 2012, after the so-called Arab Spring, Tunisia hosted over 7 million tourists, 50 times the volume in Libya. Tunisia's small, safe part of Libya has over 210,000 hotel beds. And here's the best news of all: You can stay at a 5-star hotel in Tunis for less than half the price of equivalent accommodation in Europe, sometimes one-third of the price. Tourism is the largest carrier of hard currency in Tunisia, representing ten percent of the country's entire economy. Tunisian hoteliers know what they are doing. The number of annual visitors to Tunisia is approximately equal to the total population of the nation! Tunisia is first and foremost a place that knows how to welcome guests.
Then why almost no one in America hears about Tunisia as a vacation destination? Millions of visitors to Tunisia come mainly from France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Less than half of one in one of Tunisia's tourists come from the United States, and most of them arrive on cruise ships in the magnificent port of Tunisia, spending only a few hours in this little-known but fairytale country. You can enjoy Tunisia for a small price and rest there, which will be one of the best that you have experienced.
The same goes for vacations in Morocco (a preferred destination for Americans after Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman made Casablanca in 1942, forever putting Morocco on the cultural map) and Algeria, a lesser-known but fast-paced vacation opportunities rivaling her two neighbors.
Allow your safety concerns to rest immediately. Let's say you are a single woman planning a trip to Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco. This may be the reaction you get from your family and friends: –
"Aren't you scared? Look at all those demonstrations and disasters we saw on CNN three years ago! Isn't North Africa a terrorist risk? I think you have to think twice and get rid of it! Go to visit Aunt Emily's in downtown Detroit instead! "
You shouldn't actually cancel! The odds are huge that you will have a great holiday. Here are the facts: Tunisia is where the Arab Spring begins, in an attempt by Tunisians to achieve democracy and political freedom. Even in the midst of turmoil, no tourist has since been affected by the political upheaval.
Tunisia remains far safer today than most American cities. Tunisia depends on happy visitors to survive economically, on visitors who want to come back for more. And so you will be excited and delighted by the locals you meet, from taxi drivers to waiters at your hotel and the lengths they will meet you. And you will also find how many Tunisians speak fluent English. Almost all Tunisians are trilingual and many speak four languages.
So enjoy your stay in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco! You will probably enjoy perfect weather, warm sunshine and a clear blue sky. Whether you are in the heart of its cities or your excursions into the deserts or beaches of North Africa, you will be surrounded by friendly comfort everywhere. In 2013, it is clear that the most glamorous destinations for an American looking for a fabulous but inexpensive vacation are in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.