The TunisUSA story and “Iconic Journeys Worldwide“…

TunisUSA is a tour company that specializes in cultural/historical tourism, trade delegations and Citizen Diplomacy. The company’s entrepreneurial history began in in 1993, when Jerry Sorkin, a specialist in Middle East and North African affairs, felt tourism could help bridge cultural misunderstandings between people in the Middle East and North Africa and Americans. Headquartered in the Philadelphia area (Wayne, PA) with an office in Tunis, Tunisia, where logistical aspects of domestic transport, billing and administration activities take place, TunisUSA also has operations in Turkey, Iran, Malta, Cuba, India, Algeria, Libya and elsewhere. Additional alliances are found in other areas of the Middle East. (NOTE: Operations with Libya are on hold until Libya’s security situation is improved.)

Americans and Iranians speaking about a myriad of topics...

The growth of TunisUSA is partially guided by the philosophy of the founder, that TunisUSA should be a specialist in countries, regions or topics that allow the firm to bring operational and personal experience to all programs, thus providing expertise and in-depth specialization and provide particular advantages for the firm’s clients. With a “rolodex” of contacts in the countries they serve, TunisUSA is able to provide added value in people-to-people encounters, providing an enriched component to its tours.

TunisUSA organizes scheduled, small group tours under the banner of TunisUSA, as well as private tours. In addition, TunisUSA frequently partners with non-profit organizations and affinity groups, university student and alumni travel departments, as well as serving as the Tunisian ground support for other American based tour companies marketing Tunisia.

Tunisian and American students learn about each other in southern Tunisia.

In December 2008, the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce (TACC) awarded TunisUSA its “Special Award” citing “leadership and an innovative strategy in branding Tunisian products in the US market”. The Selection Committee noted TunisUSAs “exceptional efforts promoting cultural and top of the range tourism in Tunisia.”  In  2009,  2010, 2011, 2012 and again in December 2013, Conde Nast Traveler magazine awarded “Jerry Sorkin, TunisUSAits distinguished  “Top Travel Specialists” award, recognized for the firm’s work in Tunisia.

In late 2012, TunisUSA formed a new division, “Iconic Journeys Worldwide“. Working with selected tourism and academic colleagues, all of whom maintain a regional and/or academic specialty, as well as a shared belief in travel as a cultural and educational experience, TunisUSA‘s “Iconic Journeys Worldwide” will be offering programs once or twice a year to destinations that are not so well known by American travelers. Some of the 2015 offerings will include  Haiti, Cuba and more…all implemented with the personalized style that has been recognized by so many TunisUSA clients.

Jerry Sorkin lecturing at the Middle East Institute, Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of MEI.

Bio of Jerry Sorkin TunisUSA founder…

Jerry Sorkin, is a Middle East and North African specialist, having earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania (PENN), where he specialized in Middle East studies and international business, respectively. Jerry also taught for nearly a decade at PENN’s, College of General Studies, an unusual course; “Oriental Rugs: A Reflection on Culture”, an ethnographic/historical perspective of Oriental rugs. He has traveled widely and frequently throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the India sub-continent.

Long a believer that dialogue is a preferred tool in conflict mediation, Jerry has lived by his beliefs, organizing missions that sought to find ways to overcome political obstacles and serve as a means of “Citizen Diplomacy”, From organizing events that brought together professionals from what some would see as “opposing sides” to leading special missions devoted to breaking through cultural and political barriers, this has served as the philosophical foundation to his pursuits.

Jerry Sorkin leading a delegation to meet with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in Tunis, during the Oslo period, June 1993.

In addition to his role as Founder and President of TunisUSA, Jerry has served as a Tourism Consultant to the World Bank and serves as a Consultant to a Tunisian NGO (non-governmental organization).

Jerry Sorkin, speaking at a World Bank conference Dec. 2012

As of May 2012, Jerry served as Director of the Tunisia program from George Washington University on “Innovative Tourism Concepts” at l’Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques de Djerba (ISET de Djerba) (The Higher Institute of Technological Studies of Djerba) in Djerba, Tunisia. This program provided new curriculum, knowledge, and access to resources through its proven teacher education, experience in tourism development, and student practicum programs. This GWU program was part of George Washington University’s School of Business’s International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS). This new program will allowed ISET Djerba to tailor new programs for developing student entrepreneurs in Djerba.

Since May 2011, Jerry Sorkin has been acting as the International Consultant in Sustainable Development a European Union funded project in cultural tourism, in collaboration with the project’s Tunisia partner, the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (http://www.taamstn.org/ ). Jerry developed the concept and co-authored the final version of the “Live Your Tour” funding proposal, a 4.3 million Euro project that is funded by ENPI CBCMED /European Union (EU). Jerry Sorkin serves as the Tourism Consultant for the Tunisia portion, which was awarded some 83,000,000 EURO for its first three years.

Jerry is also a frequent lecturer on topics regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, unique approaches to cultural bridge-building, an entrepreneurial approach to cross-cultural opportunities and the cultural aspects of Oriental rugs. He is conversant in several languages, including Arabic and French. He resides most of the year based in Tunis, Tunisia, with a secondary residence in the Philadelphia area.

In 2015, Jerry was chosen by the prestigious travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveler as a “Top Travel Specialist” for Tunisia…the sixth year in a row.