For a long period of time, Djerba has meant the holiday of one’s dreams, on beaches edged with wild palm trees. But meanwhile this island in the south of Tunisia has become a preferred option for hosting professional events and conventions: one recent success was the 18th Francophonie Summit that took place in November 2022, with 89 delegations including many heads of state.
With an international airport that can handle 4 million travellers, Djerba’s accessibility has been enhanced by the southwards extension of the A1 motorway that now passes within 60 or so kilometres of the island. Furthermore, work is now being done to double the width of the famous Roman Causeway (la Chaussée romaine), the road that links Djerba to the mainland and is the royal road to the Sahara.
Today the island has a well-developed infrastructure: a good road network, many top-class hotels, some twenty thalassotherapy centres, museums, a golf course, a casino and other places of entertainment.
Thirty kilometres south of Djerba lies Zarzis, a charming peninsula where one is seduced by the ‘marriage of sea and land and the explosion of colour’, as a recent TV report on the French channel TF1 put it.
Zarzis has lovely hotels and is certainly not lacking in facilities to receive professional meetings (the Odyssée Resort Zarzis offers a plenary hall that seats 600 people).
From sea to desert
For several years now, Djerba has danced to the tune of festivals, like the very trendy Djerba Music Land, which holds its 8th show at the beginning of August on the beach of the Radisson Blu Palace hotel. And there are a growing number of bar/restaurants and lounge bars; the island has become a centre for clubbers and the biggest national and international DJs flock there.
Beaches of white sand, turquoise sea, dazzling sunsets… in Djerba, nature provides a unique stage for striking events. Flamingo Island (L’île aux Flamants roses), a narrow strip of sand off Houmt-Souk port, recently hosted a convention for 1,000 people.
Convention organised by the Terre d’Ailleurs Agency
One trump card for both Djerba and Zarzis is that they are on the edge of the Sahara. Starting from either place, the most diverse post-convention programmes are possible.
The nearest region is the mountainous Saharan area in the south-east called Dahar. This area has several ‘must-sees’: its troglodyte traditions, with the astonishing dwelling places dug into the rock, and the spectacular collective granaries called the Ksour.
And beyond lies the fascinating sand desert, and then the oasis region, that can be seen in a 2-3-day excursion from Djerba or Zarzis.
What is there to visit in Djerba?
The Borj Ghazi Mustapha Fortress, on the sea shore, was in 1560 a historical hot-spot where the famous corsair Dragut repulsed the attack of the conquering Spaniards.
The ‘Djerba Explore’ recreational centre: it offers a big museum displaying traditional Tunisian and Oriental arts, a crocodile farm, and a reconstitution of a rural property that is typical of Djerba (a menzel) with its house, well and underground oil press. Note: the centre hosts events (shows, concerts, gala evenings, seminars).
Houmt-Souk town: should be visited for its souks and beautiful fondouks (caravanserais that are typical of Djerba), the Djerba Traditional Heritage Museum, and its fishing and recreational port.
The La Ghriba Synagogue, known to be one of the oldest in the world.
The village of Guellala, where magnificent earthenware jars and other pottery items are made.