The return of British holidaymakers to this North African country is arranged by Thomas Cook, one of Europe’s biggest tour operators, which resumed tourist flights from Birmingham, Manchester and London to Enfidha airport after the Foreign Office eased its travel advice to Tunisia.
Thomas Cook says it will add flights from Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne in April and from Stansted in May. A seven-night Easter holiday at a Thomas Cook hotel in Tunisia costs about £2,000, compared with £3,000 in Gran Canaria.
Thomas Cook has continued to sell holidays in Tunisia to German, French and Belgian holidaymakers, whose governments did not warn against travel to the country.
Last year it flew nearly 70,000 people to Tunisia, more than half of them from Germany. In 2014, some 440,000 people from the UK visited Tunisia, according to the Office for National Statistics.
For the past years, travelers were told to stay away from the North African country for all but essential travel. The Foreign Office has now lifted the advice for the capital Tunis and major tourist resorts. Yet, Britons are still being warned to avoid parts of the south and interior, and the Algerian and Libyan borders.
The US, France, Italy and Germany had already relaxed their travel advice before the British government’s announcement.
Tunisian authorities want to attract 10 million tourists by 2020 and have set a new ambitious strategy to reach this goal. The plan seeks to double tourism revenues, which reached $1 billion last year.
Tunisian tourism has suffered a severe decline in the years following the 2011 revolution. The worst was in 2015 when there were three terrorist attacks in the country, two of them in tourist areas.
Tunisia’s economy has also been battered by political instability that ensued the toppling of Tunisia’s long ruling dictator Ben Ali in 2011. The North African country is struggling with terrorists on its borders, increasing unemployment rates, falling currency, decreasing phosphates production and dwindling tourism returns.