The American Embassy in Tunis, in conjunction with Tunisia’s Star Wars fan club will host Star Wars day tomorrow, exploring the original films and their roots in Tunisia.
Many scenes from the first six films were shot in Tunisia, with much of the exterior shots for the original 1977 film, A New Hope taking place in the country’s south.
Of all the locations used in the original film, the most recognizable is likely that of the Hotel Sidi Driss, the troglodyte complex in Matmata, which doubled as the interior of Luke’s childhood home in the original film.
However, speaking to Tunisia Live, Adel Khatrous , General Director of the hotel said he had received no contact from either the embassy or the fan club regarding the day, nor had the hotel made any preparations. “70% of Tunisians who come to the Sidi Driss hotel don’t know that it was one of the Star Wars’ locations. There really aren’t that many Tunisians who even know the movie.” However, of the tourists that do stop by the hotel, “80% are definitely here for Star Wars.” Khatrous added.
According to Khatrous, despite the south’s ties to classic films such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Arc and the English Patient, film tourism remains relatively unknown. “There are no tourists undertaking these kind of programs.” Khatrous said,”Yesterday we only received two Chinese visitors.”
As well as Matmata, filming on Star Wars took place at a variety of locations throughout Tunisia’s south. Many of the film’s most iconic scenes took place near Tozeur, with others – including that involving the droids the Storm-troopers definitely were looking for – being shot in Ajim on Djerba.
However, according to data provided by the Ministry of Tourism, potential income from Tourism has dropped by 50 percent in 2016, compared to the same period last year, with cultural tourism, long a mainstay of Tunisia’s south, all but wiped out.