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14 Nov 2017

BY Tom Parry

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Tunisian state of emergency extended

A national state of emergency in Tunisia has been extended until the new year.

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It has been imposed since November 2015 after a suicide attack on a police bus

The state of emergency, which was imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015, runs for three months after being extended on November 10.

 

The Foreign Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice to the destination to include the change.

 

The FCO relaxed its advice against all but essential to large parts of Tunisia in June, including Tunis and the beach resort of Sousse, paving the way for Thomas Cook to reinstate its holidays and flights programme from February 2018.

 

The move followed a so-called "travel ban" on the country from the UK in the wake of the Sousse beach massacre in June 2015.

 

At present, the FCO advises travellers that terrorists are “very likely” to carry out attacks on Tunisia, with a “heightened risk” of terrorism against aviation.

 

However, the FCO notes that “Tunisian authorities have improved security in tourist resorts and their ability to respond to a terrorist incident".

 

“Tunisian security forces have also improved and are better prepared to tackle terrorist threats than they were at the time of the 2015 attacks,” its advice says.

 

Speaking to TTG at World Travel Market last week, Tunisian tourism minister Selma Elloumi Rekik said visitor numbers were on the rise since the FCO relaxed its travel advice.

 

She said: “It is important to make clear that the decision on security was made independently, and it was not a political one.”

 

Year-to-date the country has seen a 23% increase in overseas arrivals, with a particularly strong increase from France and Germany (48%). Belgium and the Scandinavian markets are also growing fast.

 

Rekik also revealed Tunisia is in the final stages of negotiating an agreement with the European Union to secure an “open skies” aviation agreement.

 

“Open skies are important for tour operators because they will have their own aircraft and it will be cheaper for them [to fly to Tunisia],” she said.

 

“It will also make Tunisia more attractive to low-cost carriers.”

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