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Is it safe to travel to Tunisia?

Since the terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015, the UK Foreign Office has advised against travelling to most parts of the country, and holidays and flights to Tunisia have been cancelled. In May this year the FCO extended its travel warning for another month. So is it safe to go on holiday to Tunisia and what do you need to know if you're planning a trip there or have flights already booked?

Is it safe to book a holiday to Tunisia in 2017?

The travel restrictions on Tunisia began after a shooting in the tourist resort of Sousse in June 2015, in which 30 British citizens were killed, and a further attack on a police bus in November 2015. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia as a whole and against all travel to the following border areas:

  • Chaambi Mountain National Park area
  • Tunisia-Algeria border crossing points at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef
  • The militarised zone south of, but not including, the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
  • Within 5km of the Libya border area from north of Dhehiba up to but not including the Ras Ajdir border crossing

The FCO still considers the threat of terrorism to be ‘high’ and does not view the security in Tunisia as “adequate protection for British tourists at the present time”.

Following the extended warning, larger tour operators have cancelled charter flights to regional airports Monastir and Enfidah, and companies First Choice, Thompson and Thomas Cook have cancelled their package holidays to Tunisia for summer 2017. However, direct flights are still running between London and Tunis Carthage Airport so it’s still possible to arrange an independent trip*.

Is it safe to travel to Tunisia?

Why have a holiday in Tunisia?

Tunisia has historically been an extremely popular country, and because of this, considered a good-value beach holiday destination for UK travellers, with a balmy Mediterranean climate and beautiful coastal resorts like Hammamet. For anyone looking beyond a simple beach break, what makes Tunisia more interesting is the cultural offering, with everything from atmospheric Roman ruins at Carthage to the eerily abandoned Star Wars sets near the desert towns of Tozeur and Tataouine. While travel industry experts are cautious to recommend a holiday to Tunisia in the near future, some are confident its appeal will return, albeit slowly. It’s worth remembering that many Tunisians rely on visitors for their livelihood, with 15% of the country’s economy depending on tourism. Though it shouldn’t be considered lightly, the current drop in visitors also means deserted beaches, good deals on hotels and cheap flights.

Desert houses, Tunisia

Should you take your family to Tunisia?

Some family travellers have said in various online forums that they still feel safe and welcome in Tunisia since the travel restrictions, and that they would happily return. Despite the UK government’s view of security in Tunisia, there has been a significant effort by the Tunisian government, keen to attract visitors again, to increase safety measures at hotels and popular tourist areas. Such measures include security wands, metal detectors and under-car mirrors, and a visible police presence. This said, if you do choose to travel to Tunisia, the official advice from the UK government is to “be vigilant, avoid crowded places and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your travel company, if you have one.”

Is Tunisia safe for solo travellers?

Aside from current threats, Tunisia is considered one of the safest countries for solo travellers in the region. Following the Arab Spring revolutions, and the subsequent unrest and violence in many North African countries from 2011 onwards, Tunisia’s political transition has been one of the most peaceful. It’s always wise to do some research if you are visiting Tunisia on your own; as a Muslim country, travellers, and women in particular, should dress conservatively away from the beach resorts and bear in mind that alcohol may not be available or approved of in a lot of places.

Beach view, Tunisia

If you want to cancel your holiday to Tunisia, what are your rights?

It’s best to speak to your individual travel operator to find out what their cancellation policy is. Thomas Cook are currently offering free cancellations or amendments to alternative holiday destinations, for Tunisia holidays booked from May to October 2017, while Thompson and First Choice have simply stated that they are not offering any holidays to Tunisia for next summer season.

What about travel insurance?

If you are heading to Tunisia this year, it’s a good idea to take out a fully comprehensive insurance policy, as the cheaper options are unlikely to cover disruptions, delays or injuries caused by acts of terrorism. Many companies offer ‘terrorism insurance’ as an add-on, so make sure you read the full details of your policy before purchasing.

Is Tunisia safe?

Read on for more travel-savvy advice and tips:

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*Information is accurate as of January 2017. Although we may update our site from time to time, we can’t guarantee that the content is up to date. For more details please see our terms of service.

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