Travel Advice Tunisia – Foreign Office advises against ‘all but essential’ Travel to Tunisia

July 10, 2015

Amy Trumpeter

On 26th June 2015, 38 people (Mostly Brits) were gunned down and killed in a terrorist attack on a Tunisian beach. My heart goes out to the families of these people, who have suffered a such a terrible loss. Over 30 Brits were killed in the attack, and this included 4 people from the West Midlands, where I grew up.

Following the attack last month, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have declared that a further terrorist attack is highly likely and that Brit’s are recommended to leave Tunisia. The FCO updated it’s status yesterday, explaining that the Tunisian investigation combined with their assessment of security in the area have prompted them to make the change in status.

Travel Advice Tunisia (from FCO – UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The travel status for Tunisia on the FCO website is currently advising against ‘all but essential’ travel to all of Tunisia and against all travel in some areas.

Travel Advice Tunisia
Foreign Office Advice 9th July 2015 https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/tunisia

Travel Advice Tunisia – the FCO advices any Brits currently in Tunisia on holiday to contact their tour operator to arrange their return, and any independent travellers to return immediately on charter flights that are still running. Read the FCO Blog here.

There are approximately 3000 UK Tourists currently in Tunisia, who will be returning over the next few days. Follow this link to hear the full announcement from Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond on the Guardian website…


Is the FCO Change in Status for Tunisia Necessary?

It has been a difficult decision for the Foreign Office to make this change in status and advice against all but essential travel to Tunisia. There have been some criticisms, stating that Tunisia is now safer due to increased security, or that this will be unnecessarily detrimental to Tunisia’s tourism industry. There is also the wider question of ‘Are we playing into the hands of the terrorists and letting them win?’

However, as British Nationals, we should trust our government’s advice as they have British citizen’s interests at heart and the most reliable sources of security information.

Indeed, it is a difficult call, because in the case of no further attack, there will have arguable been ‘a lot of disruption for nothing.’ Yet, a much more serious scenario would be one where British tourists stay in Tunisia, and another attack results in further deaths. This is something that the FCO simply could not allow to happen, in the interests of British people as well as the British government.

A crucial act of travel safety to note is that if you go to a part of the world that the Foreign and Commonwealth office have recommended you not to, this can invalidate your travel insurance. That would mean that not only are you at risk, but you will not be covered for medical help where needed either, according to many travel policies terms and conditions.

Travel Advice Tunisia – What does ‘all but essential’ Travel actually mean?

It is very difficult to stipulate what ‘all but essential travel’ actually means. It is a slightly ambiguous wording. Generally, essential travel means travel due to a life or death situation. If the FCO advice is against all but essential travel, you do not go there unless absolutely necessary. I doubt that many Brits currently have ‘essential travel’ to undertake in Tunisia.

Most British Nationals travelling to Tunisia are holiday makers or independent travellers. Tourism and backpacking is not classed as essential travel, and therefore any British tourist currently staying in Tunisia is going against Foreign Office advice.

What the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are saying is that it is recommended that you get out of the country as soon as possibly, unless it is essential that you stay. Going against the FCO advice could mean that you’re travel insurance does not cover you. It could also mean that government support (from your own government) may not be available if you have decided to go against their advice.

What will this mean for Tunisia?

Thousands of British tourists visit Tunisia for holidays every year. 14% of Tunisia’s economy comes from tourism and approximately 400,000 Tunisian people are employed in the tourist industry (www.guardian.com). Unfortunately, this will have a negative impact on the Tunisian economy as UK tourists are pulled out of Tunisia. Sadly, some people’s livelihoods may be affected – The Minister of Tourism has called the terrorist attack a catastrophe for the economy (Al Jazeera News).

Travel Advice Tunisia
Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis
(Creative Commons 2.0 on Flickr)

Travel Advice Tunisia – What should I do if I am going on holiday to Tunisia?

If you have a holiday booked to Tunisia, it is important that you contact your tour operator immediately, given Foreign Office Advice. The travel advice (Tunisia) for any British Nationals currently in Tunisia is to leave the country as soon as possible.

Will I be able to claim my money back for my Tunisia Holiday?

Remember to check your travel insurance, as you may be covered for a reimbursement of your holiday if you are forced to cancel. Check the small print in the terms and conditions of your travel insurance, and contact them as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours of realising the need to cancel is best.

If you don’t have travel insurance, or you have insurance but it does not cover for cancellation due to terrorism, still contact your tour provider. It may be that you are able to transfer the holiday to another location, or receive some compensation directly from them.

Also, do check the FCO website periodically. Brits should continue to support Tunisia by holidaying there when the FCO status is amended and travel to Tunisia is once again recommended by the British Government.

Your personal safety is paramount.

Are you planning to go on holiday to Tunisia? How will the travel advice Tunisia affect your plans?

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