A New Hope,  Prequel Trilogy,  The Phantom Menace

Tunisians restore Mos Espa and Lars homestead sets to draw tourists


From Deutsche Well: [Note: the author mistakenly believes that Mos Espa first appeared in A New Hope]

“Ong Jmel lies in the Southwest of Tunisia. To Star Wars fans, the location is better known as Mos Espa, the galaxy waystation where all the gloomy figures gather. […] It’s also where Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker – who later became Darth Vader – was born.

There’s also the small village of Matmata, where Luke Skywalker was raised by his uncle and aunt. The house in the film is actually a hotel which was constructed in such a way as to remain cool in the desert heat – namely, underground. […]

You might think that tourism here would be booming; Star Wars has millions of fans around the world, and who doesn’t enjoy slipping into a Jedi knight costume and setting foot where Luke Skywalker himself once tread?

For many years, that was the case. Then terrorism came to Tunisia and the tourists stayed home. The town of Mos Espa – a collection of buildings made of wood and papier-maché – were swallowed up by the desert sand.

Save Most Espa, a 2014 initiative by fans, collected donations in excess of $75,000 for the project, a sum handed over to the Tunisian government. Mos Espa was dug out of the sand.

Nevertheless, tourists are still staying home or preferring to stay at the sandy beaches in the North of the country instead of driving the nearly 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) to the South, where George Lucas’s desert planet makes its home and where there is enough sun to completely dry out the landscape.

Loyal fans have not given up, however. Nabil Gasmi of the regional tourism organization CDTOS is continuing work to protect the film set from being forgotten. “We have to. Everyone here in the area profits from the film set and sees it as a part of their inheritance,” he told German news agency dpa.

He dreams of turning the region into a tourist magnet – complete with convenience store, museum, film screenings and festivals. Residents should be brought on board, as many, especially the young people, are unemployed.

A delegation of Tunisian tourism managers presented their idea at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) trade fair in Berlin in March 2017. They are especially interested in acquiring tourists from around Asia that are increasingly traveling around the globe to visit the hot spots. Why not add southwestern Tunisia to the list?

mosespaset1They look like two wooden rockets, but fans will recognize the moisture vaporators in use on planet Tatooine: They were left behind to show that this was once the location of the spaceport of Mos Espa, a “Star Wars” settlement. Visitors can take pictures of themselves wearing an “original Jedi cloak” – at least that’s what the souvenir sellers claim they are.

mosespaset2Star Wars fans around the world raised money and managed to save the filming location of Mos Espa from sinking. Tons of sand were shoveled away with excavators. Now fans and tourists can keep on visiting the hometown of Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader.

mosespaset3Very few visitors come nowadays to the film city of Mos Espa in the remote Southwest of Tunisia, so local souvenir dealers tout their goods as soon as anyone shows up. French tourists Yvonne and François Boisson were nonetheless eager to visit the set. Huge Star Wars fans, they follow the footsteps of Luke Skywalker.

mosespaset4Working for over 30 years in tourism, souvenir merchant Salem Ben Said has spent many of them in another galaxy: on the planet Tatooine, where the city of Mos Espa is located in the film. Among other souvenirs, he sells small dried scorpions and jewelry.”


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