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EU leader says Tunisia safe for tourists
Posted on 13/02/2016

SecurityTunisia

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The president of the European Parliament has reportedly reaffirmed his confidence in Tunisia's security measures, during a recent visit to the site of one of last year's deadly terrorist attacks.

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has reportedly said that it is safe for tourists to return to Tunisia. During a recent visit to the North African country, he said that international authorities should visit Tunisia as soon as possible to verify the security situation for themselves.

Vote of confidence for Tunisia

Vote of confidence for Tunisia
(C) European Union 2011 PE-EP

Schulz's words are the first message of support for Tunisia since terror attacks plunged the country's tourism industry into crisis last year. An attack at the famous Bardo museum in Tunis left cruise passengers dead in March, before a lone gunman killed 38 people on the beach at the popular resort of Sousse, including 30 Brits.

Visiting the hotel that was at the centre of the beach massacre, Schulz gave an interview to a local radio station in which he said that Tunisia had taken all necessary security measures to ensure the safety of holidaymakers.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is continuing to advise against all but essential travel to Tunisia for British citizens. Tour operators and cruise lines have also suspended holidays and scheduled ports of call until further notice.

The country's tourist office noted that security measures had been put in place nationally, regionally and on an individual hotel basis to assure safety in areas popular with tourists. Director of the Tunisia National Tourist Office Tarek Aouadi said he hoped that the lifting of the state of emergency on February 21 would provoke a positive response from the British government.

A statement from Tunisia's Defence Minister, Farhat Hachani, also confirmed the completion of the first stage of a barrier stretching along his country's border with Libya. Using water-filled trenches and sandbanks, the Tunisian government hopes that the barrier will prevent the movement of militants over the border from Libya.

"Since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, we have been working closely with the Tunisian authorities to investigate the attack and the wider threat from terrorist groups in Tunisia," the FCO said in a statement.

"Although we have had good co-operation from the Tunisian government, including putting in place additional security measures, the intelligence and threat picture has developed considerably, reinforcing our view that a further terrorist attack is highly likely.

"On balance, we do not believe the mitigation measures in place provide adequate protection for British tourists in Tunisia at the present time."

According to numbers released in September last year, Tunisia had already lost around one million tourists as a result of the terror attacks. But Schulz said that European states should bring any travel bans to an end and "show the world that terrorism could not be allowed to win".

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