Tunisian Govt. urges Britain to relax travel warnings




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New York  –   The Tunisian Government has urged British Foreign and the Commonwealth Office (FCO) to relax travel advice warning to British citizens under which they were to avoid travelling to Tunisian destinations.
The travel advice followed the deaths of 30 British holiday makers in the Mediterranean town of Sousse during a terror attack in 2015.
The FCO currently advised against all travel to the Chaambi Mountain National Park area, the Tunisia-Algeria border crossing points at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef.
It also advised against travelling to the militarised zone but not including the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba.
However, the Tunisian government through its Ambassador to Britain, Nabil Ammar, said British government should take into account security improvements in Tunisia since 2015.
Amb. Ammar said there was now a gap between the perception of the level of security and the real security on the ground.
“Every week terrorist cells are dismantled. Terrorists are arrested or neutralised, so this should give a positive image, not a negative one.
“If you take statistics, you have much less chance to die in Tunisia or to have any harm in Tunisia than so many countries close to us,’’ he noted.
The Tunisian envoy disclosed that figures from the Tunisian Tourist Board showed a fall of over 90 per cent in British visitors for the first four months of this year compared with the similar period a year ago.
“Between January and April 2015, Tunisia welcomed 84,225 visitors from Britain, but just 5,980 in the first four months of this year,’’ Amb. Ammar added.
PANA learnt that a state of emergency remains in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on November 24, 2015.
It has been extended a number of times, and on March 22 it was extended for a further three months, to June 22, 2016.
It will be recalled that the FCO, in its travel warning to British citizens, stated:
“The threat from terrorism in Tunisia is high. Further attacks remain highly likely, including against foreigners.
“Security forces remain on a high state of alert in Tunis and other locations.
“You should be vigilant, avoid crowded places and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your travel company, if you have one,’’ Ammar added.
It noted that since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, the FCO has been working closely with the Tunisian authorities to investigate the attack and the wider threat from terrorist groups in Tunisia.
Although, there has been good co-operation from the Tunisian government, including putting in place additional security measures, the intelligence and threat picture has developed considerably, reinforcing the FCO view that a further terrorist attack is highly likely.
“On balance, we do not believe the mitigation measures in place provide adequate protection for British tourists in Tunisia at the present time,’’ the FCO said in a statement. (PANA/NAN)