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Should I travel to Tunisia?
Following the deadly Tunisian terror attack in the resort of Port El Kantaoui, near Sousse, on June 26 – as well as the earlier atrocity in Tunis on March 18 – many holidaymakers will have had their summer holidays cancelled and may be wondering whether they should still travel to this popular sunshine destination this winter and beyond.
Current Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice warns against all but essential travel to Tunisia. After evacuating all of their guests out of the country back in July, some travel operators and airlines have closed the current summer season operation down completely. In recent days, the Tunisian authorities announced that they are extending the state of emergency in the country to the middle of October, meaning there is little chance that the ban on travel will be lifted any day soon. For the latest advice, check the FCO site.
So, what do you need to know if you’ve booked a trip to Tunisia or are planning to?
I’m currently in Tunisia – what should I do?
You should look to leave the country as soon as possible. Those on ATOL-backed holidays and flights will be brought back by their travel companies, at the company’s expense, and most tour operators will be offering a refund for the days of holiday you will lose (however, your holiday costs also include the price of your flights, so expect a proportionate amount back). There is more information on the websites of the tour operators offering holidays to Tunisia.
Independent travellers should contact their airline and leave at the earliest opportunity – travel insurance for those who choose to stay in the country will be invalid and they should inform their insurer of their plans to exit Tunisia.
I have a package holiday booked to Tunisia this summer. Can I change or cancel my booking?
Those with package holiday bookings departing up to the end of the summer season (October 31, 2015) are being offered full refunds or transfers to alternative holidays. Extra holidays to places such as the Spanish mainland, Balearics, Canaries, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Algarve and Turkey have been made available by the big tour operators too. You’ll be able to find information on how to change or cancel your holiday and get a refund on your tour operator or online travel agent’s website.
Please be aware that you will have to pay any extra costs for an alternative holiday if the price is more than the one you are cancelling.
I have a package holiday booking later in the year, but don’t want to go now – what can I do?
Package holiday bookings for winter 2015/16 and summer 2016 are not currently affected. If you are concerned about your booking for travel beyond November 1, 2015 you should contact your travel arranger.
Thomas Cook announced this week that it is looking to start operating holidays into Tunisia from February 2016 and will be contacting all customers with bookings from the beginning of November this year through to the proposed start date to offer alternatives or a refund. Thomson is doing the same, although it is not planning to start flights until March 2016.
I have made independent arrangements to travel to the country – do I have any rights?
If you cancel your trip you may lose money if the travel company you have booked with is not offering free cancellations on its arrangements. However, the vast majority of booking companies should be able to help.
Independent travellers with future bookings should contact their airline and hotel companies to discuss options open to them.
Can I claim for any losses from an insurer?
This will be dependent on the type of policy you have, but try to claim what you can back from your travel provider first and then work out your final losses. It’s unlikely that the cheapest policies will cover losses, while many more comprehensive policies will – but check yours to find out.
Many providers are looking at claims as a result of the situation on a case-by-case basis and, unusually, some providers such as Aviva have announced that if customers with its policies are unable to recover costs from their tour operator for cancelling a holiday to Tunisia, they will allow claims up to a certain value for this.
What if I travel to parts of Tunisia against the advice?
If you decide to visit areas the FCO advises against, your insurance cover will be invalid from all companies.
Please note: All details were correct at the time of writing.