10,000 Visitors Enjoy the USAID-Smithsonian Folklife Supported Tozeur International Oasis Festival    

Articles / 30-01-2023

Between December 24 and 27, the International Oasis Festival attracted 10,000 visitors to Tozeur — an increase of 25% from last year. The support provided to the festival by USAID Visit Tunisia in partnership with Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage included security management, volunteer management, business planning, and marketing under the “Festival Incubation” program.

© Raafat Khiari / USAID

The Festival Incubation program – supporting Tunisian festivals

In partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage , USAID Visit Tunisia launched the Festival Incubator, a technical assistance/mentoring program to help Tunisian event and festival organizers better design, organize, and market their events.

When the call for participation was launched in April 2022, over 100 festivals applied, with six ultimately selected to join the incubator program: Kairouan’s Mouled Festival, Tozeur’s International Festival of Oasis, the Zaghouan Mountain Film Festival, Matmata’s International Festival, Month of Heritage (AMVPPC), and the Roman Days of El Jem. Together, these events and festivals attract more than one million annual domestic and international visitors.

The multi-year Festival Incubator program has been designed to provide custom technical assistance and one-on-one mentoring with industry experts to improve programming, community engagement, design, and marketing for unique cultural heritage festivals throughout Tunisia.

“Our ambition is to evolve, improve and renew the festival’s offerings. This year, we succeeded in creating new content, new format, new creations, and new artistic additions.”— Nassreddine Chebbi, Director of the International Oasis Festival in Tozeur.

The first event to take place after receiving technical assistance was the Mouled Festival. Over 1.2 million visitors traveled to Kairouan in October 2022 to enjoy the festivities during this multi-day event.

Lessons from the Mouled Festival were channeled into supporting the 43rd edition of the International Oasis Festival in Tozeur, the incubator’s second festival to take occur.

PHOTO © Raafat Khiari / USAID

Tozeur International Oasis Festival’s 2022 Edition - Huge Success!

Between December 24 and 27, the International Oasis Festival attracted 10,000 visitors to Tozeur (a 25% increase from last year). The support provided by USAID and Smithsonian included security management, volunteer management, business planning, and marketing.

“I believe we succeeded in delivering a great edition based on the number of visitors I’ve seen when circulating in Tozeur. All the guesthouses, hotels and restaurants were full. It’s great to see the economic recovery of the region. With the support of USAID Visit Tunisia and Smithsonian Folklife, we hope to improve our next edition’s communications and marketing and include more Tozeur’s traditional culinary heritage.”— Rayan Bouabidi, Creative Director of the International Oasis Festival in Tozeur

“Our festival is fun. The program is amazing, especially the closing night with Blingos and Samara.”— festival participant on national television.

The festival received coverage on national television with positive testimonials from attendees and the artists who showcased their cultural heritage.
USAID Visit Tunisia will continue to support the festival through the incubator program through 2023. This year’s goal is to attract 15,000 visitors to enjoy the wonders of the festival!

PHOTO © Raafat Khiari / USAID

Why did we select the Festival of Tozeur for the Festival Incubation program?

The Festival International des Oasis de Tozeur is the largest cultural and tourist event in southern Tunisia, whose engaging multi-day activities provide a unique insight into the civilization, culture, arts, and history of the Djerid region. Tozeur is one of USAID Visit Tunisia’s priority regions and one of the country’s most culturally lively and rich. The event is a perfect portrayal of a culmination of Tozeur’s unique heritage: several days filled with showcasing food, dancing, music, and more!
The festival dates back to 1938, first called the Festival of the Date Palm. Tozeur’s rich date palm groves are some of the world’s most well-known! Though it was interrupted for several years during World War Two, the beloved event was resurrected at the dawn of Tunisian independence and evolved into an international festival in 1991. Each year, it has continued enchanting international and domestic tourists alike, eager to learn about and absorb the rich cultural heritage of the Tozeur region, a desert oasis gem of Southern Tunisia.

Follow along with our project this year as the USAID Visit Tunisia Smithsonian Folklife Festival Incubation continues to assist four culturally rich and impactful festivals and events across Tunisia to showcase the country’s immense cultural and natural wonders: The Zaghouan Mountain Film Festival, the International Festival of Matmata, Month of Heritage (AMVPPC) and the Roman Days of El Jem.

Want to keep up with the Tozeur International Oasis Festival for next year? Follow them on Instagram and Facebook . Don’t miss out on next year’s fun!

PHOTO © Raafat Khiari / USAID

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