A Thomson store assistant manager told an inquest into the deaths of 30 Britons in the massacre in Sousse that she was just doing her job by selling a holiday to the destination.
Amy Smallman said that staff training did not extend to understanding the intricacies of Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice and that if a holiday was on sale she assumed the destination was safe.
Instead of being taught what the advice meant, she said staff were given a list of expected questions from customers with a list of stock answers to use.
Giving evidence at the inquests at the Royal Courts of Justice, Smallman – who has worked at Thomson’s Ilkeston store for eight years and for the company for more than a decade – said: “If something is on sale, then I sell that destination. If it’s not on sale, I don’t sell that destination.”
Smallman helped the Thompson family switch a planned holiday in Rhodes, Greece, to Tunisia a little more than a month before the Sousse attack in June 2015, when Islamic State gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire and killed 38 people.
At the time, the FCO’s travel advice level was on green, which advises visitors to read advice before they go but does not advise against travel.
If the FCO said it was safe then we would sell it.”
Following a separate terror attack in Tunisia at the Bardo museum in Tunis in March 2015, the terror threat in the country was raised to “high” although the FCO advice at green.
Asked whether she understood the advice, Smallman said: “At the time, we sold holidays there. If the FCO said it was safe then we would sell it.”
And asked whether she knew about the “high” terror threat level, she said: “If something is on sale [and I sell it] I’ve just done my job. I’ve sold a holiday that’s on sale.”
She said she would routinely refer people to the FCO website but not talk them through it and added that documents given to customers to sign included an ‘important customer information’ sheet which also referred them to the online advice.
“I wouldn’t sell something to someone unless I was 100% sure they wanted that holiday,” Smallman added and she said Thomson had never “pushed” Tunisia, or any destination, on to customers.
Katherine Deal, representing 20 of the families of the victims, asked Smallman: “You were not told by those higher up the chain to give customers details of what the FCO was saying or to advise them to read the small print.
“So your understanding was that if you are allowed to sell holidays there it’s safe to send customers there?”
Smallman replied: “Yes.”
The court also heard that since Sousse Tui’s Thomson branded shops have brought in cards which indicate the travel advice to the countries they sell in shops for customers to see when they are looking at potential destinations.