Local tourism, an opportunity to seize during the pandemic

August 3, 2020

Serial entrepreneur, Samira Ali has always been driven by the love of her island and its ancestral background. In July 2019, she launched in Dar El Makhzen, a neighbourhood famous for its troglodyte dwellings, “Houch Yamma”, a leisure centre for local and foreign family tourism.

After obtaining a degree in international trade, she started her journey as entrepreneur, and learnt step by step how to carry out her dream. A first experience with an accountancy firm allowed her to dive into the field of management. Then a training in painting also enabled her to make and sell paintings and other decorative objects. Thanks to a further training in fashion design and model making, she learnt to design and sell traditional clothes of her region.

“I wanted to open a leisure centre where I could receive visitors in the Djerbian tradition and offer customers passing through the typical products of our heritage.”

In 2017, Samira discovered the project Mashrou3i through social networks and her associative activities. She subscribed to the HP LIFE e-Learning training program which enabled her to perfect her business model, to clearly identify the different activities of her project and above all to improve her managerial skills.

In 2018, Houch Yamma was in the focus of the Souk Ettanmia Jury’s attention and won the national prize for the best project idea. This consecration gave her the financial support to develop her “houch” as she dreamed it. Tourist groups are usually welcomed at the entrance to the tabla and zoukra by a group of musicians, they then settle down in one of the two outdoor tents to rest and follow the traditional baking of bread and other dishes from afar. Several workshops are provided to children and parents, from traditional weaving, to puppets, painting and crafts.

With 10 permanent jobs, Houch Yamma, offers its visitors entertainment and traditional catering services that draw on the experience and typical Djerbian gastronomy. Despite four months of closure due to the Coronavirus crisis, Samira is currently preparing to resume her activity.  She is taking all the necessary measures to ensure hygiene and distancing. They will also work at 50% of their capacity for the moment to be able to respect all these safety measures.

“As of today,” continues Samira, “the recovery of the tourist sector is slow to come, and the fixed charges weigh heavily on the operating budget of my activity. I am certainly proud to have integrated Houch Yamma on the tourist map of the island. But for the moment, like most professionals in the tourism sector, I am focusing on local customers. To do this, I need be smarter and develop new services that better meet their needs. We are offering clients a breakfast service and traditional cuisine in traditional tents on the beaches. We are optimistic for the future.”