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TUNIS, June 30. /TASS/. The number of holidaymakers in the Tunisian popular resort town of Sousse has decreased two-fold following last Friday's attack in which at least 38 people, most of them tourists, were killed by a gunman on a nearby beach, regional tourism officials said on Tuesday.
"The number of people staying at hotels in Sousse has fallen from 12,000 to 6,000 after the terrorist attack last Friday," Saloua Kadri, Sousse tourism commissioner, said at a meeting of the Tunisian association of tour operators.
While discussing the current situation, representatives of travel agencies noted that the number of cancellations could reach 30-40%.
Tunisia’s authorities are taking emergency measures to save the tourist season. The Tourism Ministry announced on Tuesday that the government had decided to cancel the 30-dinar exit tax for tourists, though the change can only come into effect after a parliamentary vote.
The North African country that relies heavily on tourism expects to lose at least $515 million this year, or about a quarter of its estimated annual tourism earnings, after the deadly attack forced thousands of tourists to flee the country.
"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]," Tourism Minister Salma Loumi told reporters, giving a preliminary estimate from the Sousse attack.
On Friday afternoon in Tunisia’s Sousse, an armed terrorist opened gunfire at a beach adjoined by the 5-star Imperial Marhaba hotel, which is popular with West-European tourists killing 39 and wounding 26 more.
A Russian woman is listed among the wounded in the attack, while another Russian national is considered missing.
Russian diplomats who visited local hospitals in search for the wounded Russian female tourist said there were nationals of Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, and Ukraine among the hospitalized following the attack.
The notorious terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack in Tunisia, hit by the second terrorist attack in three months. In mid-March, a group of armed attackers, clad in military uniforms, stormed the Bardo museum, located near the parliament in the country’s capital of Tunis, killing over 20 people, including 17 tourists, wounding dozens and taking several foreigners hostage.