Tunisia, forgotten by Star Wars Fans

Tunisia remains largely unknown by Star Wars Fans…

+VIDEO:  39th International Ksour Festival of Tataouine.

The 39th edition of the Tataouine International Festival of Sahara Ksours was held from 21 to 24 March 2018.  

According to Kevin Caulfeild-James (die hard Star Wars Fan):

“Most Star Wars fans don’t realize that Tunisia was the primary filming location for the planet of Tatooine in both Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”.

Considering that Tunisia has a strong connection to such a massive following; one would think that Star Wars Fan would be flocking in droves to southern Tunisia.  The truth is:  They’re NOT!

The Force in Tunisia

More than 40 years ago, George Lucas set up shop on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia, nestled between Algeria and Libya, to film scenes on his desert planet of Tatooine for Star Wars: A New Hope. He even named the planet after the Tunisian village of Tatouine, and now locals are doing their part to restore the sets that have been left behind for more than four decades, while a tourist agency is trying to draw more visitors to the area.

A picture taken on May 2, 2014 shows tourists visiting a film set where numerous Star Wars scenes were filmed in Ong Jmel, in southern Tunisia. 

Tunisia was once an active tourist destination for Star Wars fans for many years, but that changed in 2015, when a gunman opened fire on a Tunisian beach, killing 38 people. A year earlier, there was also an initiative dubbed Save Mos Espa, which raised over $75,000 to restore the Mos Espa sets which had been “swallowed” by the desert sands. The funds were then handed over to the government which dug the film sets out of the sand. Here’s what Nabil Gasmi of the regional tourism organization CDTOS said about his continuing work to make sure these film sets are not forgotten by bringing more tourists to the area.

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The Festival

A prime example of the “Star Wars Tourism Decline” was the recent  39th edition of the Tataouine International Festival of Sahara Ksours was held from 21 to 24 March 2018.  While the event was an overall success, the lack of foreigners in general and Star Wars Fans in particular did not go unnoticed.

The Festival of the Ksour Saharien is a time when there are reconstructions of Bedouin and Berber life are made in the historic center of Tataouine.

During the four days of the festival there is the chance to see traditional parades, camel runs and Berber art and crafts shows as well as take part in guided visits to the villages and evenings with traditional food. Tataouine is still one of the most picturesque cities of southern Tunisia, where the colonial past brushes up against mountainous landscapes.

Operating in Tunisia?  

The uniqueness of this place that was able to resist modernization inspired George Lucas, the director of ‘Star Wars’. Lucas shot many of the scenes in the saga in Tataouine, especially in some set in the native planet of Luke Skywalker, Tatooine, which took its name from the ancient Berber villages of Tataouine.

39th International Ksour Festival of Tataouine

As Tunisia struggles to remain a vibrant democracy they will need all the support from the FORCE they can get.  Hopefully events like the International Festival of Tatouine will get them more attention and in turn more visitors to see and experience this beautiful North African country.

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