Tunisia will suffer badly from the exit of British tourists

Morning View
Morning View

The Foreign Office’s decision to tell British people to leave Tunisia might be the right decision, but no-one should be under any illusions as to the scale of the disaster that it represents for the Tunisians.

Of the four countries in the northwest of Africa that border the Mediterranean – Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia – the latter has long been the most popular with European visitors.

It is a stable and relatively prosperous nation, certainly in comparison to its immediate neighbours to the west and east, Algeria and Libya.

The decision to fly home more than 3,000 tourists is an economic catastrophe. The last thing anyone in Europe should want to see is Tunisia becoming impoverished, which could happen if its tourist industry collapses.

That then could would almost certainly lead to more extremism there, just across from Europe.

The British government has a fiendishly difficult decision to make – there would be uproar if tourists died when it was in receipt of information about a “highly likely” attack.

It is right to be cautious. But it is worth bearing in mind that some tourists who are there now have said they feel very safe, given the high profile security, and that the recent atrocity was effectively a lone operation.

It is also worth noting that the risk of terrorist attack in most global tourist resorts is very slim. Even in Tunisia and Morocco, which experienced a bomb in 2011 in the popular city of Marrakesh but is now thriving, the overall number of fatalities is minuscule proportionate to visitor numbers.

We hope that the situation is soon such that the Foreign Office advice an be overturned and the many tourists who love Tunisia, and are return visitors because of the hospitality they receive, can resume their visits to the country.

Tunisia, like Greece, badly needs our money. We must do our utmost not to submit to the extremists.