Travel companies have offered tourists the chance to change their holiday bookings to Tunisia in light of today’s attack in Sousse which left at least 28 people dead including a number of Britons, Germans, Belgians and an Irish woman.
Thomas Cook said customers due to travel between today and Sunday can cancel their holidays free of charge, while those flying out from Monday up to July 24 can amend bookings for holidays to Tunisia free of charge.
The company said: “We can confirm that the reported hotels are not offered by Thomas Cook, and that none of our customers or staff were in residence at the time of the incident.
“However, we do currently have customers staying in other parts of the resort, and our experienced teams on the ground are continuing to offer every support to them and their families at this difficult time.
"Thomas Cook would like to extend its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of those affected.”
People booked through Monarch or Cosmos Holidays in the next seven days can also choose not to travel and instead change their destination.
The attacks took place at two hotels operated by Spanish company RIU Hotels & Resorts, the Imperial Marhaba and the Hotel Club Riu Bellevue.
RIU said 565 guests were staying at the five-star Imperial Marhaba at the time, the majority from the UK, and a spokeswoman said travel company Tui operated there.
Tui, which runs Thomson and First Choice, could not confirm whether it operated tours through the hotel.
Thomson said it was “working closely” with its teams in Tunisia, and has set up a helpline for friends and family members of those currently in Tunisia - 0800 088 5372.
The Foreign Office has also set up an emergency number for those worried about people in Tunisia – 020 7008 0000.
Abta, the Association of British Travel Agents, has advised holidaymakers in resorts to contact their tour operators for updates, while those due to travel today and tomorrow should also contact their airline.
With the promise of hot weather and sandy beaches just a few hours away, Tunisia is one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers seeking a sunny getaway.
The North African country is in the 20 holiday hotspots for British travellers, with 424,000 tourists going there last year, according to the Foreign Office.
But Tunisia is not only a destination for British travellers. It is also very popular with Germans and the French, who have historic links to the country, and figures from the World Bank suggest six million foreign tourists visited the country in 2013.
Abta says around 20,000 visitors are in the country at the moment, excluding those tourists who have travelled there independently.
The country has had a chequered relationship with tourism in recent years, partly triggered by the huge social and political upheaval since the uprisings of the Arab Spring in 2011.
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a failed attack on the beach in resort Sousse in October 2013 – the site of the latest incident – and in March this year an attack on the National Bardo Museum in March killed 22 people, mostly foreign tourists including a Briton, leaving tensions high.
A spokeswoman for Abta said: “Tunisia had just started to recover to the numbers before the Arab Spring of 2011, but then it had the attacks on the museum in March.
“It is too early to say what impact it (today’s attacks) will have had, but we nearly always see when there is an incident such as the attack on the museum a drop-off in short-term bookings.
“This attack is still unfolding so it is far too early to say what the impact will be, but this kind of incident typically does have an influence on people’s decisions to go on holiday.”