Tunisia inquests: Massacre ‘devastated the nation’, says former minister

Tunisia has suffered most from the beach massacre that killed 30 Britons, according to a former minister who decried its damaged reputation as a tourist destination.

Lazhar Akremi, part of the crisis committee that responded to the murder of 38 holidaymakers in Sousse in June 2015, told The Times that the mass shooting had devastated the nation.

“You lost 30 people. But the suffering is bigger for the Tunisian people,” he said. “I mean, the reputation of the country was ruined, tourism was destroyed, also the 30 were our guests. They were killed while they were our guests.”

Meanwhile, the hotel at the centre of the attacks is to re-open next month. German operators are already promoting discount packages to the renamed resort.

The Riu Imperial Marhaba closed after the attack. Soon after Riu Hotels and Resorts, the Spanish company responsible for managing the hotel, pulled out of Tunisia.

Deutsche Hospitality signed a contract in December with Zohra Driss, the hotel’s local owner, granting it the right to run the hotel.

“From the second quarter of 2017, guests will be able to relax at the Steigenberger Hotel Kantaoui Bay in Sousse, Tunisia,” the company said.

The Steigenberger hotel group website says that rooms could be available from April 1. Renovation work at the Hotel Kantaoui Bay is in its final stages and gardeners are working in its grounds.

Security is set to be stepped up at the resort and everyone will be scanned by airport-style x-ray machines. Anyone entering the premises will also be scanned by walk-through metal detectors.

“There are concrete safety guidelines from the local authorities in terms of fire protection regulations, escape routes, which will naturally be fulfilled in our hotel,” Jannah Baldus, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Hospitality, told The Times.

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