Irish tourists in Tunisia have pleaded with the Government to get them home amid claims they were not fully informed about the impact of the attack on their holiday destination.
In calls to RTÉ Radio’s Joe Duffy, holidaymakers said they were barricading themselves in their rooms at night and were too afraid to leave their near-empty hotels or go near the beaches because of the lack of visible security outside.
While they had been told about the attack before they got on the plane to Tunisia last Friday, they said they were assured it was not a terrorist related incident and that everything was back to normal.
The tourists are clients of holiday company Just Sunshine which had several dozen seats on a flight chartered by Sunway Travel last Friday.
Sunway customers were offered a full refund or another destination at that departure gates but Just Sunshine customers said they were told there were no alternative arrangements on offer for them.
Just Sunshine did not respond to queries from the Irish Examiner yesterday but its website says it will accommodate passengers due to travel from this Friday onwards who want to change their plans.
The notice reads: “Clients due to travel this Friday, July 3rd, and now wishing to cancel, there will be a full refund made. All other July departures are being offered a change of destination with Sunway Holidays and all monies already paid will be credited to the new booking.”
Helen Kennedy, whose family of six are in Tunisia, said they were “petrified” since arriving last Friday and had not ventured near the beach.
“We won’t leave the resort,” said Ms Kennedy. “We’re just sitting at the door beside the pool. The resorts are empty. As we were arrving, there were busloads of people leaving. Their governments were taking them home. People were laughing at us arriving.
“We have tables up against the door. We’ve barricaded the room. The children are asking us every night are they going to die.”
David Jackson, whose family, including two teenagers, are booked in for two weeks, said the Department of Foreign Affairs should have issued a no-travel alert for Tunisia and stopped the plane from taking off.
He called on the Government to divert the LÉ Eithne from rescuing migrants in the Meditteraean or send the Government jet to get his family home. “They say we’re to excercise extreme caution,” he said. “It’s not much a holdiay when you’re looking over your shoulder all the time.”
Sunway said it will go ahead with this Friday’s flight to Tunisia unless there is a no-travel warning but that passengers who do not wish to go are being refunded.
Anyone wishing to change plans for subsequent flights will get a partial refund, minus cancellation charges, or will be able to switch destinations, paying any additional costs that may arise.
Sunway spokeswoman Marie Claire Porter said the company was in regular contact with the Department and its staff on the ground in Tunisia and those who had chosen to travel were happy.
“Our general manager for North Africa is there, and our reps, and if there were any concerns, we would hear about them very quickly,” said Ms Porter.
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