CCAP and Citizen Diplomacy International Host Conversation with Jerry Sorkin

Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia (CCAP) Citizen Diplomacy International partnered to host a virtual “Diplomacy and Dialogue” conversation with Jerry Sorkin, the Honorary Consul for Tunisia, on June 9. 

Having resided in Tunisia for over six years, Sorkin began serving as the Honorary Consul for Tunisia in May 2018 after being appointed by Tunisia’s former President Beji Caid Essebsi. Prior to this, he founded TunisUSA, an organization headquartered in Philadelphia that uses tourism as a vehicle to promote cultural understanding across the Middle East and North Africa. 

In his virtual conversation with CCAP and Citizen Diplomacy International, Sorkin discussed how Tunisia adapted its tourism strategies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite having limited supplies, Sorkin said that Tunisia’s health system used an innovative and modern approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Sorkin particularly praised Tunisia for implementing drastic preventative measures to combat the pandemic, such as a nationwide curfew that lasted from March through mid-May. These measures resulted in Tunisia reporting less than 80 deaths associated with the virus, Sorkin said. Johns Hopkins University reported on June 16 that Tunisia has only 1,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths related to the virus.

Despite the public health sector’s success, Sorkin concluded the conversation by saying that the pandemic has dramatically hurt Tunisia’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Sorkin said that Tunisia may take precautionary health safety measures as the country resumes its cultural tourism practices, such as limiting the number of tourists permitted in the country. Reuters reported that Tunisia plans to reopen its sea, land and air borders on June 27 to boost tourism, but its tourism industry could still lose $1.4 billion and 400,000 jobs this year. 

About the Host Organizations

Representing 65 countries across the world, CCAP is the oldest consular organization in the U.S. and its members represent 65 countries across the world. As a nonprofit organization, CCAP seeks to improve its members’ access to Philadelphia’s businesses, non-profits and political leaders; facilitate communication, education and mutual support among its members; improve Philadelphia’s understanding of global diplomacy; and partner with a variety of organizations that contribute to Philadelphia’s international agenda. 

Citizen Diplomacy International is a nonprofit organization that promotes person-to-person diplomacy in order to empower Philadelphians to form meaningful connections with the international community. By focusing on the significance of human interaction, Citizen Diplomacy International hopes to positively shape foreign relations, national security and the U.S.’s international reputation.

Article written by Tasnim Hasan on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association