A leading British tour operator has announced that it has cancelled all holiday bookings to Tunisia for the next year.
One of the holiday industry’s biggest brands, Thomas Cook, announced that it will not be running a holiday service to Tunisia for the Summer 2017 season. Their decision is based on continuing concerns over the safety of British and European tourists visiting the country. Any hopes that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office might change their advice about travel to Tunisia appears to be unfounded.
A spokesperson from Thomas Cook said “We know this will be frustrating for our customers who have been looking forward to their holiday. All customers whose bookings have been affected by this decision are being contacted to arrange an alternative holiday, or a refund if necessary.”
Tourism industry expert, Moez Kacem told Tunisia Live that the news of Thomas Cook cancelling their Summer 2017 service is a huge blow. He stated, “Thomas Cook is the biggest operator, so this is very significant as they bring 2 million tourists each year.” He added the value of business that Thomas Cook brought to Tunisia each year was £138 million in 2015. The main areas hit by this decision will be coastal towns such as Sousse, Monastir and Hammamet; once popular with British people for their sandy beaches and historic town centers.
Tourism, which previously accounted for 7% of the national economy, has declined rapidly since the attacks on the Bardo Museum in Tunis and last summer in Sousse.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s most recent update refers to the renewal of the national state of emergency on September 19th. Their general advice is for essential travel only and they specifically advise against known areas of unrest, such as Mount Chambi in Kasserine, and the fragile border regions near Libya.
Thomas Cook added that “The safety and well-being of our customers is our first priority, and we continue to monitor travel advice and keep our customers updated.”
This article was updated at 18.20pm 7 October 2015.