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Rania, paving the way for ecotourism

© Rabii Ben Brahim, The Dreamer

Born in Ain Draham, northwest Tunisia, Rania Mechergui studied environmental biology and specialized in the management of bioresources and sustainable development. Always passionate about her region, throughout her studies she focused deeply on how to fully develop its potential, while training to become a professional guide. 

In 2015 she launched Kolna Hirfa, an enterprise for the benefit of rural women artisans in the region of northwestern Tunisia, which earned international awards and partners for collaboration. This success led Rania to establish a second company: Dar El Ain, which is entirely dedicated to ecotourism.  

Today, her mission is to promote the natural and ecological potential of her country and to create a green and blue economy model that respects the environment and contributes to sustainable development.

Aside from her entrepreneurial activities, Rania is a passionate advocate for environmental justice. She spreads awareness of the Mediterranean ecosystem’s condition with all the tourists who participate in her tours and actively engages with local institutions to ensure better investment opportunities for sustainable businesses.
 

“The Mediterranean Sea is our culture. So many things are related to the sea, they are a part of our history.” Rania

© Rabii Ben Brahim, The Dreamer

Ecotourism in Tunisia

Tunisia is considered to be one of the most exposed nations to climate change in the Mediterranean - facing threats such as temperature increases, reduced precipitation, rising sea levels and escalating extreme weather phenomena (floods and droughts). These risks are likely to result in major environmental and socio-economic vulnerability that will particularly affect water resources, agriculture, natural and artificial ecosystems, the coastline, health and tourism.

Tourism contributes nearly 10% of gross domestic product and is a key source of foreign currency. 9 million foreign tourists visit Tunisia every year. Tunisia and the North-West region of Tunisia in particular are characterized by an important wealth in terms of natural and cultural resources. But the region also suffers from a high level of unemployment, a low level of business creation and private investment, repetitive nature of business ideas and projects, absence of economic sectors, a low level of transformation of resources, and economic activities that create value and employment.

Today’s tourists are looking for destinations that offer authentic experiences, well preserved landscapes, local colour and locally sourced goods. Visitors are paying more attention to health and wellness, and seek opportunities to escape urban living while minimizing their environmental footprint. If supported by smart and monitored investments, ecotourism is a successful response to the need for sustainable rural development in disadvantaged areas.

Pescatourism could initiate a real ecotourism strategy for Marine Protected Areas
, across the Mediterranean, including in North Africa. Pescatourism is a way to give value to the tangible and intangible heritage of artisanal fisheries and to reduce fishing effort; it’s a simple equation – the more time fishers spend in explaining their activities and daily work to visitors and tourists, the less fishing they do and the more money they can earn.

“We organize journeys with fishers as part of pesca tourism where tourists spend a whole day with the fisher and discover traditional fishing techniques- unique to Tabarka.” Rania

© Magali Mabari / WWF Mediterranean