The British government on Thursday told all United Kingdom tourists to leave Tunisia because a terrorist attack is “highly likely”, saying the North African country’s government has not done enough to enhance security.
The foreign office said, however, that it did not believe measures taken by Tunisia to counter such attacks would provide “adequate protection”.
(Sousse occurred only three months after a terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis that killed 21 tourists and a police officer.) So having been shocked twice into action, Tunisia is taking further concrete steps to combat this terrorist threat.
Thomas Cook said in a statement on Thursday it was working to bring home 2,000 British and Irish guests now at its resorts in Tunisia on 10 flights scheduled for the weekend.
Thomson and First Choice immediately cancelled all outbound flights to Tunisia for the summer season running up to and including October 31.
The Foreign Office said it is advising against all but essential travel to the North African country.
Holidaymakers should contact their tour operators about returning to Britain and independent travellers should make their own arrangements to leave, the FCO said.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry said it was observing the situation very closely and adjusting travel advice regularly.
The two attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group, have dealt a heavy blow to the tourism industry, which contributes between seven and eight percent of Tunisia’s GDP.
The warning comes after an attack at a beach hotel that left at least 38 people dead, most of whom were British citizens.
About 20,000 British tourists were on package holidays in Tunisia at the time of the attack, as indicated by ABTA, the country’s largest travel association.
Irish citizens in Tunisia are encouraged to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ citizen database.
Our Embassy in Madrid, which is accredited to Tunisia, will be notifying those Irish citizens who are resident in the country of the changes to the travel advice.
In the past two weeks the Tunisian authorities have failed to convince the Foreign Office that it can contain a multiplicity of threats, many emanating from across the long, leaky border with Libya.
Thousands of tourists are already being flown home, with extra flights being laid on.
Monarch Airlines said it is arranging to repatriate all customers in resorts “back to the United Kingdom as soon as possible” in response to the changed advice.