Figuring out whether it is safe to travel to a country is not always easy, particularly if like Tunisia, that country has been deemed unsafe due to its recent political upheaval. When there is a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy in New York, the situation is far more obvious to would-be travellers, but political revolution obscures the scene, making it difficult to determine just how dangerous your holiday may be. Questions ensue as to how widespread the political activity is, whether armed activity is resulting in attacks on people and what economical issues you may face on arrival.
In regards to Tunisia, most are continuing with their travel plans, while others are electing to postpone and apply their funds to a future date. It is only a small minority who are cancelling outright and insisting on refunds. Even during the revolution of January 2011, only about ten per cent of tourists left Tunisia. All others stayed as the riots did not affect the resorts. Today, Tunisia is actually one of the safest countries to visit; it’s poor, but crime is actually very low.
The U.S. embassy did issue a ‘warning,’ telling people not to visit Tunisia. The border with Libya is open, but the security situation remains tense. There are regular clashes between groups of informal economy and black market traders and the authorities in towns close to the border, meaning border crossing points are occasionally closed without notice. The physical structure of the country was also badly damaged during the revolt and in order to rebuild, they have minimised staff that handles routine consular matters and day to day travellers’ issues, such as lost passports, medical inquiries etc. For those who are travelling independently and may need these services, this is not the time to go.
On the other hand, the violence, strikes and demonstrations in Tunisia have now died down. And even when they do take place, they are announced for a certain time and place to attract the maximum number of demonstrators. Avoiding these places is a sensible step of caution. Jerry Sorkin from TunisUSA told Conde Naste Traveller, “As for as Tunisia now, we would never encourage people to travel here if we did not feel we had means of providing security precautions. We have not cancelled any programs.”
At PurpleTravel.co.uk, we advise our customers that if they are travelling to Tunisia, to make certain that they are fully covered by their travel insurance. While many insurance policies do not cover natural disasters or political events, a growing number DO have plans that provide an option to cancel. Although this option may be more costly, essentially you are paying for your peace of mind, making the initial cost a well-spent bargain. We also strongly recommend that you avoid all forms of demonstration – if you become aware of any nearby violence, you should leave the area immediately and keep yourself informed of developments by checking the news, observing the instructions given by the security authorities and/or your tour operator and regularly check this advice. You should always carry a copy of your passport, or other form of photo ID, as proof of your nationality and identity.
Bear in mind also that tourism is an important revenue source for Tunisia, representing seven per cent of GNP. Due to this, security for tourists has always been very high on the government’s agenda.
Book your safe holiday to Tunisia with PurpleTravel.co.uk here. Or call 02079939228.