Security in Tunisia has been “dramatically tightened” in the two years since the Sousse massacre but tourism will only recover if British holidaymakers return, says the country’s tourist office.
Speaking just after the two-year anniversary of the terrorist gun attack in Tunisia which killed 38 holidaymakers, including 30 Brits, the tourist office said 1.5 million European tourists visited the destination last year. These included 400,000 French, 130,000 Germans and 630,000 Russians.
Sami Tounsi, trade manager at the Tunisian National Tourist Office, said: “All went home safely. Since the attack on the beach two years ago no single tourist has been harmed.
“The security has dramatically tightened on the borders and hoteliers are day by day embracing the new culture of security and safety within and outside hotels thanks to the tremendous and productive cooperation between the UK and Tunisian governments.”
He added: “Tourism is picking up but it will never recover until the British are back, according to the Tunisian hotel Association, because it will send a very strong message to the world that Tunisia is safe. ”
The tourist board continues to call for a partial lifting of the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel ban to Tunisia, to ease restrictions on one airport such as Djerba in order to start to rebuild trust.
He added: “The current situation is simply sending a message to terrorists that they’re winning.”
The tourist board continues to run low profile digital marketing campaigns to promote Tunisia.
Tounsi admitted: “It is unacceptable that the first question people ask before they go on holiday if it’s safe or not rather than asking about the good product and fun.”
He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all agents I’ve met on roadshows during this year so far for their genuine and strong support for Tunisia which is heart-warming and keeps us going and keen to meet more and more them.”
A state of emergency in Tunisia was recently extended for a further four months, effectively wiping out the summer holiday season. It was imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015 following the Sousse attack in the summer.
The state of emergency in the north Africa country has been extended a number of times.
The FCO travel advice says: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia.”
The only direct flights from the UK to the country are by Tunis Air six days a week between London and Tunis.
The FCO advises against all travel to border areas between Tunisia and neighbouring Algeria and Libya and all but essential travel to the rest of the country.