Friday, July 28, 2017

Foreign Office Eases Tunisia Travel Advice for British Tourists
Tour companies can send holidaymakers to north African country, government guidance says, with a warning to be vigilant

Holly Watt
Wednesday 26 July 2017 11.43 EDT

The Foreign Office has changed its Tunisia travel advice for British tourists, meaning tour companies can start sending holidaymakers to the north African country again.

Tourists were warned in 2015 not to travel to Tunisia after 38 people, including 30 Britons, were killed by a gunman at Sousse, and tour companies and cruise operators suspended visits for more than two years.

The country, which used to be a popular tourism destination, remains in a state of emergency after a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015.

The Foreign Office continues to warn that “terrorists are still very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia” and that people should remain vigilant, especially around religious festivals and sites.

It also continues to advise against all but essential travel to the south of the country and advises against any travel at all to areas close to the country’s border with Libya and some of the Algerian border region.

Foreign Office travel advice is critical for tourism, because travel insurance is usually invalidated in affected areas. Some British tourists have continued to travel to Tunisia, staying in five-star hotels for rock-bottom prices.

After the Sousse beach attack, tourists said they would not have travelled to Tunisia if they had been aware of the potential dangers, and claimed tour operators had failed to flag up the terrorism threat.

The travel company TUI was criticised during the inquest into the British deaths for failing to provide sufficient information about the potential threat to tourists.

The coroner in the inquest said travel companies should display logos showing the travel advice for each area on their brochures, and include links to official government travel information.

There had been an attack on the Bardo national museum in Tunis three months before the Sousse attack, where 22 were killed. At the Sousse inquest, tourists said they had been told the country was “100% safe”, despite the Bardo attack.

A spokesperson for ABTA, the association of travel agents and tour operators, said its members would continue to rely on Foreign Office advice. “This change in level of travel advice means that travel to Tunisia can now resume and travel companies can put in place plans for holidays to Tunisia to restart, should they wish to do so,” it said.

Since March, Tunisia has been one of the countries where travellers are subjected to enhanced hand luggage restrictions on flights to the UK. Large phones, laptops and tablets not allowed in the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.

Announcing the changes to the travel advice, the Foreign Office said: “Since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, which targeted tourists, the UK government has been working closely with the Tunisian authorities to investigate the attack and the wider threat from terrorist groups. The Tunisian government has improved protective security in major cities and tourist resorts.”

No comments: