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First since 2019, Tunisia hosts 700-passengers cruise ship, 40 more expected

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Tunisia has received a cruise ship at its port for the first time since 2019 on Wednesday. The ship was carrying over 700 passengers and rare good news for tourism operators battered by the Covid pandemic.

The cruise ship, named ‘Spirit of Discovery’, is run by United Kingdom operator Saga, landed at La Goulette port on the edge of Tunis where it was welcomed by camels and a band playing traditional Tunisian music.

Cruise ships are large passenger ships used mainly for vacationing. Unlike ocean liners, which are used for transport, they typically embark on round-trip voyages to various ports of call, where passengers may go on tours known as “shore excursions”. On “cruises to nowhere” or “nowhere voyages”, cruise ships make two- to three-night round trips without visiting any ports of call

“We were not trading for about 18 months… but we’ve been back in business since last July and this is our first call here to northern Africa,” said Captain Kim Tanner.

British tourist John Hilton, 75, said he was “absolutely delighted” to be in Tunisia.

“We’re certainly pleased to get out and see some of the worlds and get to some of the places that we haven’t seen,” he said.

Cruises make up part of the global travel industry, and operate in various regions across the globe, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. In recent years, the global cruise industry revenue grew to over 27 billion U.S. dollars, though travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit this sector hard in 2020.

According to Tunisia’s Tourism Minister Moez Belhassen, the cruise liner was the first of at least 40 expected to dock in Tunis this year.

“This is very important for many sectors… especially given the spending power of tourists,” he said.

Culture

South Africa announces inaugural Creative Arts Awards

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The South African Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, has announced the inaugural South African Creative Arts Awards which is scheduled to hold between March and April next year.

Making the announcement on Tuesday at a news conference, Kodwa said the awards would be bestowed on South Africans and literary creatives in various sub-domains who exhibited outstanding artistic and technical outstanding achievement.

“It will be the most desired recognition in the South African creative industry,” said Kodwa.

“The awards will be exclusively for creatives from across cultural domains who push boundaries of their creative abilities and show devotion to excellence,” the minister added.

The announcement of the Creative Arts Awards is coming a few weeks after the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs withdrew support for hosting the South African Music Industry Council (SAMIC) Awards, also known as SAMAS.

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20th Marrakech International Film Festival kicks off in Morocco

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The 20th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival successfully kicked off at the weekend at the Palais des Congrès in the Ochre City, Morocco, with a plethora of distinguished figures from the world of cinema, art, culture, and media.

The weeklong festival which kicked off under the watchful eyes of King Mohammed VI, and will run till December 2, began with the customary procession of festival attendees, including Moroccan and international film greats who graced the red carpet with colourful klieglights, with American actress Jessica Chastain serving as the president of the jury.

Among the awarded are Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen who was honored with a career achievement award for his remarkable contributions to films like “Another Round,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and “Casino Royale,” where he portrayed a memorable James Bond villain.

In an interview with journalists after receiving his award, Mikkelsen expressed gratitude to the organisers.

Marrakesh welcomed Scandinavian filmmakers ten years ago by paying tribute to them. So we have a shared history, and they have helped us to make a name for ourselves. We are very grateful to them,” he said.

Mélita Toscan du Plantier, Director of the Marrakech International Film Festival, highlighted this year’s packed programme with strong films and great directors, noting that the festival would feature a predominantly female jury, with six women and three men.

British actress, Tilda Swinton also emphasized the importance of film festivals, saying:

“Film festivals celebrate the opportunity in cinema to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to reach a kind of agreement about the human experience. So film festivals are always valid.”

The opening film, Richard Linklater’s action-comedy, “Hit Man,” set a lively tone for the festival, while over 70 films, including Michel Franco’s “Memory” starring Jessica Chastain, and Matteo Garrone’s Italian immigration drama “Io Capitano,” are expected to be showcased at the event.

Moroccan Prince, Moulay Rachid, who is leading the foundation responsible for the festival, while delivering his welcome speech, emphasized that it served as an invitation for discovery, empathy, and sharing.

He added that despite challenges like Israel’s war with Hamas and a recent earthquake in Morocco, the organizers aimed to showcase cinema from Morocco, the Middle East, and Africa.

“The Marrakech International Film Festival stands as a bastion of peace, bringing people together for discovery, empathy, and sharing,” he said.

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