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Is It Safe to Visit Tunisia? Latest Travel Advice

by Amila Herath
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Thousands of British holidaymakers will be preparing for an autumnal or early winter holiday to Tunisia. But after the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war, some will be wondering whether it is safe to do so.

First, a word on proximity. Sousse, the most popular beach holiday destination in Tunisia, is more than 1,400 miles away from Gaza. Rome is a similar distance from the conflict zone. So the geographical location of Tunisia shouldn’t put you off travelling there.

However, there has been a rise in political demonstrations in Tunisia following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, and the country remains in an ongoing state of emergency – in place since 2015 following a suicide attack on a police bus.

Here’s everything you need to know about whether it’s safe to visit Tunisia, from Foreign Office advice to the terrorist threat in the country and your rights if you do decide to cancel your holiday.

What does the Foreign Office say?

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not updated its advice on travel to Tunisia following the Hamas-Israel conflict.

However, the FCDO does warn against travel to various parts of Tunisia. They warn against all travel to: the Chaambi Mountains National Park and the designated military operations zones of Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma and Mount Mghila; the militarised zone south of the towns of El Borma and Dehiba; within 20km of the rest of the Libya border area north of Dehiba; and the town of Ben Guerdane and immediate surrounding area.

In addition, for security reasons, the FCDO advises against all non-essential travel to: within 75km of the Libyan border, including Remada, El Borma and the town of Zarzis; the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla; within 10km of the border with Algeria south of Kasserine governorate; within 30km of the border in El Kef and Jendouba governorates south of the town of Jendouba, including the archaeological site of Chemtou; areas north and west of the town of Ghardimaou in Jendouba governorate, including El Feidja National Park; within 10km of Mount Mghila; and Mount Orbata.

Note that neither Tunis nor the popular beach holiday destinations of Sousse and Hammamet fall into the areas covered by FCDO advisories. Things can quickly change, so always check the FCDO’s latest advice before you travel.

Tunisia, Kairouan
The holy city of Kairouan in Tunisia CREDIT: Digital Vision/Getty

Is there a terrorist threat in Tunisia?

In June 2015, 38 foreign tourists (including 30 British nationals) were killed in a devastating terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui, near Sousse. The country has experienced a number of terrorist attacks since.

The FCDO says: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia and there have been a number of attacks in recent years.

“A nationwide state of emergency, first imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015, remains in place. Follow the advice of local security officials, including in and around religious sites.”

The FCDO lists crowded areas, government installations, transportation networks, businesses with Western interests, and areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather, as the places at high-risk of an attack.

Have there been demonstrations in Tunisia?

There have been reports of pro-Palestine protests forming in Tunis, the Tunisian capital. On Wednesday people gathered outside the French embassy demanding justice for Gazans after the hospital explosion.

The FCDO advises: “Demonstrations and protests occur in Tunisia quite often with little or no warning. They can sometimes become violent. Larger demonstrations and protests usually take place in central areas of Tunis and other major cities, and in the vicinity of government buildings. Demonstrations can be called at short notice, and are often at weekends. There are certain prominent national dates on which demonstrations traditionally occur.”

Are flights still operating to Tunisia?

Yes, flights between the UK and Tunisia continue as usual, and your plane will not enter Israeli airspace on the way there.

The FCDO does issue a note on aviation security: “There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation interests. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Tunisia to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials,” the FCDO advises.

What if I want to cancel my holiday?

If you have booked a package holiday and want to cancel your trip for any reason, contact your tour operator and they might offer flexibility with alternative dates. 

But bear in mind that, because the Foreign Office has not issued blanket advice against travel to Tunisia, there is no guarantee you will receive a refund, nor will you be able to claim money back with your travel insurance company.

If you have booked flights and accommodation independently, and wish to cancel your holiday, contact your travel providers as soon as possible to see if you can rearrange your plans. Note, however, that given the circumstances, it is unlikely you will receive a full refund.

Source : TheTelegraph

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