Thousands of tourists decide to leave Tunisia

Thousands of Irish and British tourists have decided to leave Tunisia following Friday’s massacre, in which 38 people, including three Irish citizens, lost their lives.

Thousands of tourists decide to leave Tunisia

Holiday firms have organised extra flights in addition to scheduled service to cater for anyone wishing to leave the area after the slaughter in Sousse, while some flights to the country have been cancelled.

Travel company Thomas Cook said more than 1,000 holidaymakers in the North African country cut their trip short as a result of the terror attacks, for which the Islamic State has since claimed responsibility.

The company added two extra flights out of the country on Saturday, and another extra flight yesterday, while Thompson and First Choice added 12 additional flights between them.

Jet2Holidays said it flew more than 600 tourists home over the weekend.

Irish Travel Agents Association president Martin Skelly said that around two thirds of tourists due to fly from Ireland to Tunisia on Friday made the journey in spite of news of the attacks.

One scheduled flight operated by Sunway was due to depart for Tunis at 3.30pm but was delayed because of the killings.

It eventually departed at 6.30pm with 112 on board — a further 59 cancelled their flight and received a full refund.

“About two thirds of people opted to continue on their holidays to Tunisia and the rest either went somewhere else or took the refund,” said Mr Skelly.

“It’s a bit early to say what’s going to happen and we will be looking to the Department of Foreign Affairs for their advice.”

It is estimated that at least 20,000 Irish and British holidaymakers are still in Tunisia.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan urged tourists to be extremely cautious if travelling to the area but has not issued an outright ban on people visiting the country.

“I would do no more than advise people to be vigilant. I’m not in the business of imposing travel bans but I would urge people to be extremely vigilant,” he said.

“Anybody wishing to plan a holiday in the immediate vicinity of the region should use extreme caution at all times. It is a very difficult area.”

Meanwhile, the British government has said further terror attacks in the area “are possible”.

It has advised people not to travel to the Chaambi Mountain National Park area and the Tunisia-Algeria border crossings at Ghardimaou, Hazoua.

It also included Sakiet Sidi Youssef, the militarised area south of El Borma and Dhehiba, or within 5km of the Libyan border.

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