With Tunisia back on sale for the British market this spring, Riadh Saidani, a Thomas Cook rep at Les Orangers Beach hotel in Hammamet, tells Sophie Griffiths what tourists can look forward to when they visit
How does it feel to have British tourists returning to Tunisia?
I’m so happy the tourists are coming back! I was in Sousse at the time of the 2015 attack – it was a terrifying time and it will remain with me for the rest of my life. I would reassure anyone who is concerned now though – it’s absolutely fine to walk along the beach. It’s fine to walk anywhere.
What changes have you seen to security in resorts and hotels?
We’ve seen a big difference in security – we have guards on hotel entrances on the beach and at the front of the hotel. And we have special tourist police who walk around and keep an eye on resorts. There are also unmarked police cars escorting the tourist coaches. The government is putting a lot of effort into security.
You held the first rep meeting for British holidaymakers last month – were they wary of booking excursions?
No – we had a lot of bookings straight after the first rep meeting, and some were for the two-day “Sahara Explorer” trips. We also had 12 customers who booked trips to [the capital] Tunis as well. We did have some questions from customers about security but we reassured them and they were happy to book the excursions.
Where would you recommend tourists visit in Tunisia away from the usual hotspots?
Kairouan, it’s the fourth holiest city in Islam (after Jerusalem, Medina and Mecca). Tunisia is also a great place to visit for diving, especially Tabarka in the north-west, Bizerte and Monastir.
What else does Tunisia have to offer?
Tunisia is a great place to visit if you enjoy wine tasting. Customers can enjoy a brilliant wine-tasting tour at Chateau Bacchus. Golf is also big – we have courses in Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir and La Soukra. We also have a cultural programme – every November there’s the Carthage Film Festival, and in summer we have Festival season, where every town holds its own events. It also includes The Festival International de Musique Symphonique d’el Jem – a symphonic concert, which is held in the heart of the Colosseum in the town of El Jem.