Tunisia PM to ring Cameron over call for tourists to leave

10th July 2015, Comments 0 comments

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said he would telephone British counterpart David Cameron on Friday to respond to his government's advice that the North African nation was unsafe for holidays.

The Foreign Office guidance issued on Thursday evening forced British tour operators to halt all holidays to Tunisia in a massive blow to a key sector of its economy.

Essid told a late-night session of parliament that the guidance would "have repercussions" for Britain although he did not elaborate on what they might be.

"We will ring the British prime minister to tell him we have done everything we can to protect all British interests and those of others countries -- that's our duty," Essid said.

"Britain is free to take whatever decision it likes -- it's a sovereign country -- but we too are a sovereign country and we have a position to take."

Tunisia has brought in a raft of new security measures, including arming tourist police, since a jihadist gunman killed 38 foreign holidaymakers, 30 of them Britons, at the beach resort of Port El Kantaoui on June 26.

But the Foreign Office said it did not believe they provided "adequate protection" and advised against all but essential travel.

Tunisia's ambassador to London Nabil Ammar accused Britain of giving in to the jihadists and playing into their hands.

"By damaging the tourism, by having foreigners leaving the country, they damage the whole sector and put so many people out of work and on the streets," he told the BBC.

Within minutes of the Foreign Office advice, tour operators Thomson and First Choice said they had cancelled all flights to Tunisia for the rest of the season, until October 31.

Britain's largest travel association, ABTA, said the 3,000 or so British tourists currently in Tunisia would be flown home as soon as possible.


© 2015 AFP

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