WORDS MARY VON AUE | IMAGES TWITTER/@SELFIE_TUNISIE
Tunisia’s National Bardo Museum reopened its doors on Monday for the first time since gunmen opened fire on its patrons, killing twenty-two people on March 18th.
A steady crowd filtered into the country’s largest museum, admiring the renowned collection of Roman mosaics that now showcase flowers, candles, and flags in honor of the victims, AP reports.
While the building’s artifacts suffered only slight damage, many believed the Bardo attack would be a fatal blow to Tunis’ already struggling tourism industry. Several cruise lines, which had fed much of the country’s tourism, removed Tunis from their itinerary, and British polls showed that interest in traveling to Tunisia dropped almost immediately by 22%. The tourism industry accounts for 472,000 jobs in Tunisia and makes up over 15% of the country’s GDP.
Despite grim travel projections, social media has erupted with messages of support and solidarity, spawning a viral trend of pledging to visit Tunisia this summer. Using hashtags like #JeSuisBardo and #ExperienceTunisia, social media users continue to post selfies and endorsements for a Tunisian vacation. French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed showed his support by encouraging his followers to visit Tunisia, while football star Leo Messi promised Twitter he’d visit this summer.
It’s easy to be skeptical of any viral movement that includes selfies, but let’s not forget that the relentlessness of the Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise $100 million for ALS research. We’ll be able to measure the success of this web campaign as vacation season approaches, but until then we can spend our days admiring Tunisian beaches flooding our Instagram feeds.