Remember Luke Skywalker’s home in Tatooine that was lovingly restored by fans? It’s currently one of several Star Wars sites threatened by desertification in Tunisia. In order to address the problem, this week Tunisia’s tourism ministry announced a new international fundraising campaign aimed at saving sets used in the Star Wars films before they are destroyed forever by the encroaching desert.
George Lucas famously filmed parts of the Star Wars franchise in Tunisia; which stood in for the desert planet of Tatooine, home to Anakin and Luke Skywalker. However due to the encroaching desert, the world famous sets, which attracted thousands of tourists each year, are in danger of being buried under tonnes of sand. The set for Mos Espa, which was featured in Star Wars Episode One – The Phantom Menace, was built at Ong Jmel in southern Tunisia. However, much of it has been damaged in recent years due to shifting sand dunes.
In order to save them, the tourism ministry has teamed up with several organizations to launch the “Save Mos Espa” campaign, which hopes to raise 300,000 Tunisian dinars ($190,000) for the restoration of the site.
“Mos Epsa is located in a very windy region, threatened by sand dunes which the wind moves by around 15 metres a year. One dune has already buried 10 percent of the site,” said Nabil Gasmi, a spokesman for one of the tourism groups involved in the campaign. “We managed to remove 8,000 cubic metres of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed.”
The Tunisian state has allocated 160,000 dinars to the project, with an appeal launched on Monday on a crowdfunding website to raise $45,000. Of course, the tourism ministry knows that holding back nature is always going to be a losing battle, but hope that they can save the sets for another eight to 10 years. The sets are a major asset to the country’s tourism industry, which has taken a blow since the 2011 political uprising.
Lead image via Wikimedia Commons