Jan 21, 2011

Posted by in Travel News | 21 Comments

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Trouble in Tunisia – Travel Advice

Bob blk shirt 2Following last week’s change in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice to Tunisia, there has been extensive media coverage of holiday makers returning from this North African country.

The official line was changed to advise against all but essential travel to the country, causing tour operators to halt operations to the resorts and to bring customers home. The situation is fast moving and ever changing, so it is important to keep in touch with the situation. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is always up to date with the latest news – click here

But what should you do if you have a holiday or trip booked to Tunisia? Follow our advice.

I have a package holiday booked to Tunisia travelling in the next few days. Can I change or cancel my booking?

You will need to speak to your tour operator. The major companies Thomson and First Choice, along with Thomas Cook have already cancelled departures for yesterday and this coming Wednesday. Customers will be offered a full refund, a transfer to a holiday in Tunisia at a later date or to travel to another destination on a holiday of a similar value. These conditions are due to the booking conditions that you make your booking under, governed by ATOL and ABTA.

For holidays beyond Wednesday, each tour operator is monitoring the situation, however while the FCO advice remains in place there will be no departures.

Any customers still in the country should contact their tour operator via the appropriate website for assistance in returning to the UK.

I have a package booking for later this year, but don’t want to go now. What can I do?

You will need to speak to your tour operator; however it is likely that normal cancellation and amendment fees will be incurred until it is known that the dates you are travelling are affected by the domestic troubles in the country.

I have made independent arrangements to travel to the country? Do I have any rights?

If you choose not to travel, based on the current advice, then any refunds or changes will be down to the policy of the individual airline, hotel company or other such travel provider. For example, British Airways is currently only offering a change in date of up to a few days or a transfer to another destination, not a refund. Tunisair is not offering any such leeway.

If you cancel your trip you are likely to face losses from travel companies if they are not offering a free cancellation. If you are facing losses, try and negotiate a credit note or transfer to a later date when the troubles have settled down, rather than lose your money. You will be unable generally to transfer your booking to any other person.

Can I claim for any losses from an insurer?

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim from any insurer for any losses. This is because many have a clause that prevents claims due to civil unrest, revolutions or other such situations.

Contact your insurer to speak about the possibility of any claim.

What if I continue to travel regardless of the advice?

If you decide to travel independently, despite the advice, then you will find that your insurance cover is invalid from many insurers, so ensure you check this before you travel.

Whilst non essential travel is advised against, ensure that you register with the FCO Locate scheme
This will ensure that the British Consulate is aware you are in the country and can contact you should troubles escalate and an official evacuation of British Nationals be required.

  1. And now to add insult to injury the German tourists are being offered free amendments up to April and UK customers with the same company are being charged £35 per person or have to remain in limbo http://suzyb.net/?p=565

  2. It’s intersting how different companies apply their policies across different territories.

    It could be due to different advice from the German government to that from the UK’s Foreign Office, however it makes it tougher on UK travellers wanting to amend so far out.

    Which company are you referring to?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have a package holiday booked to Egypt travelling on 4 February 2011. Can I change or cancel my booking?

    • Hi

      You need to check with the tour operator, airline or travel agent you hve booked with. It will depend who you are travelling with and their policy as well as where you are travelling to as to whether you can change or amend your booking free of charge or whether normal booking conditions will apply.

      In general all travel to the Red Sea resorts is continuing as normal, however for travel to Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and Suez, booking companies are allowing flexibility.

      Each company has their own policy, however contact them as soon as possible.

      Bob

  4. Manohar says:

    I have a package holiday booked to Tunisia travelling in the next few days. Can I change or cancel my booking?

    • Hi

      This will depend on what you have booked and who with.

      Major package tour operators such as Thomson and Thomas Cook have cancelled all departures until the end of February.

      Airlines have different policies depending on when and how you bought your ticket and when you are travelling.

      Again, contact your tour operator, airline or travel agent for the latest advice on your personal plans.

      Bob

  5. pamela hart says:

    could you please inform me if you think it is safe to still go to tunisia, we are travelling in july with our 2 young grandchildren and i dont want them to feel unsafe with all the trouble that is going on in libya and a lot of the libyans are moving into tunisia also we have to pay for the remainder of the holiday at the begining of may i have spoken to the travel company who booked this holiday for us but they said thomas cook was still allowing people to travel could you please help us and give your honest opinion as to what we should do thank you

    • Hi Pamela

      This really does have to be a personal decision on current advice.

      As the FCO is not advising against travel to Tunisia and is only really advising general caution at present, then the tour operators and airlines will continue to operate due to the investment they have in the entire holiday operation in the country.

      If you choose to cancel you would be losing your deposit at this stage, this applies up to 70 days prior to trvelling with a Thomas Cook package. The amount you lose then escalates the closer to the departure date. The company would only allow free cancellations should the FCO advice change and as we have already seen earlier this year, events can change dramatically in a only a few days.

      The Libyan situation is difficult to read in terms of the effects it will have on neighbouring countries such as Tunisia and the tour operators will be watching the situation closely in the coming days. However most nationals (who were not Libyan) who crossed into Tunisia are now generally back home after an airlift to take them out, so it would only be Libyans themsleves. The main Tunisian resorts are far from the borders (except for Djerba)so in the main you are well away from that area.

      I was due to travel to Morocco at the end of April, however my travelling companion has decided that they no longer want to travel due to the general feeling of unrest in North Africa, so I am now forced to go alone and they are losing their money. I feel secure that I can travel safely and that if anything should happen the FCO and my tour operator will look after me under the ATOL guidelines – something that Thomas Cook have an excellent record of doing.

      The Tunisians really do want to get people back on holiday and I am sure you will be welcomed and looked after by them, however this does have to be your decision and whilst this would not worry me personally, I cannot speak for everyone.

      Hope that this helps in some way.

      Bob

    • julie says:

      hello pamela

      i have been reading the posts on here as. like you, we have now booked to go to Djerba, Tunisia. I was just wondering if you are going ahead with your Tunisia holiday or if you have changed your mind?

      julie

  6. Aaron Ludlow says:

    hi. i am flying to tunisia on 10th july but have recieved a phone call from a friend saying that he has heard over 150,000 flights have been cancelled to the country. do you know if this is true or not? if so what action can i take to getting my money back, if any? thanks

  7. Hi Aaron

    The first thing that you should do is contact your flight company, travel agent or airline to enquire whehter your flight is affected. Some tour operators have withdrawn their program for this summer while others are continuing to opeate as normal, so there have been flights cancelled.

    This is due to a sharp drop in demand following the political problems of January and February of this year. However the resorts are all open for business and the FCO has deemed it safe to travel to the country once again, although you should exert caution in areas where there are crowds and demonstrations. Fairly normal advice for many other countries to be fair.

    Once you know the position for your own flight you can then decide what you wish to do. If the flight is actually going ahead it is unlikely you will be able to get anything back on the trip as it will be treated as a normal cancellation. If it has been cancelled you will be offered either a refund or alternatives.

    Please let us know how you go on.

    Regards

    Bob

  8. julie says:

    hi there

    I was just wondering what your opinion is on taking a holiday in Djerba in July 2011 given the situations which have taken place in Tunisia and Libya. I feel more concerned about the Libyan aspect. The prices are so low at the moment it seems like an opportunity not to miss but they always say ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. I would hate to put my family in danger.

    • Hi Julie

      Apologies for the delay in replying.

      I would have no problems personally in travelling to Tunisia on a holiday at the moment. However it is a personal decision that you must make and some people will have a variety of reasons why they would not go.

      Many tour operators have resumed operations to the country and new flights to Djerba are operating to this stunning island.

      The FCO advice as I write is that it is safe to travel to the country, however you must not travel within 40km of the Libyan border. Djerba is further away than this and is a holiday destination as opposed to a major town or settlement. For the latest info use this link as it can change. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/tunisia

      I would travel with a major tour operator such as Thomas Cook who have an excellent reputation should anything happen while you were away and the situation should change. If they felt it was not safe or the FCO asked them to stop operating you would receive first class help and assistance.

      The Tunisians are desperate for holidaymakers to return as their livelihoods depend so much on us and you will get a warm welcome, plus have the chance to buy a bargain price break.

      Do bear in mind that in July it will be very hot with temperatures 90+, so be aware of that when making your decision. However you can enjoy unspoilt beaches of golden sand and lovely warm seas.

      Whatever you do, i hhope you have a good break.

      • julie says:

        Thank you for your reply. We are actually looking at a holiday through Thomson/First Choice. Is their reputation of sorting out any problems that may possibly occur in Tunisia as good as Thomas Cook would you say?

        Julie

        • Hi Julie

          Thomson/First Choice are superb in these kind of situations. They are the market leader in the UK for package holidays and you will have no problems at all with them.

          Have a great trip.

          Bob

  9. Cheryl Clarke says:

    Hi i am travelling to Djerba in 2 weeks and i am really concerned about all the unrest in Libya. I have spoken to Thomas Cook and they have confirmed this is not affecting Tunisia. Do you think i should cancel?

    • Bob Atkinson says:

      Hi Cheryl

      As things stand today it is a matter of personal choice if you wish to cancel your holiday. If you did you would face cancellation charges of up to 100% which you cannot claim for under travel insurance cancellation procedures.

      The FCO advice is that it is safe to travel at present and if this advice should change, Thomas Cook would immediately cancel all trips and bring people home already in resort. They are very responsible when it comes to customer safety.

      The island of Djerba is off the cosast of Tunisia towards the eastern border with Libya. When the troubles started earlier this year Libyans crossed the border into Tunisia, however in recent days Libyans have benn returning from their refugee camps as they sense that things are changing at home in their favour.

      My gut is that you will be able to holiday with no problem at all and I would be prepared to carry on with no concerns.

      Keep and eye on the FCO travel advice for Tunisia and in touch with the news and your tour operator.

      I am sure you will have a great break, the Tunisians are desperate for business and will be very welcoming.

      Enjoy

      Bob

  10. susan frank says:

    can you please tell me can I book a holiday in tunsia will I be safe in sep 2012

  11. hi,
    would it be safe to travel in may do you think as i have a holiday booked for then.

  12. hi,
    would it be safe to travel in may do you think as i have a holiday booked for then. we are going to hammement and we just want to be safe when we travel.
    thanks lee

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