Holidaymakers returning to Tunisia this week found resorts and the surrounding area normal and shops and restaurants open, but most excursions still unavailable.


However, a rapid easing is anticipated after the interim government announces reveals the schedule for elections this summer – an announcement is expected before the end of this week.


Mohamed Naceur Laribi, Tunisian Office of Tourism regional commissioner for Nabeul and Hammamet, said: “The next two weeks will be very important. The political agenda is important to restore stability.”


Thomas Cook UK customers were among the first to return to Hammamet, with 36 arriving at the three-star Dar Khayam resort on Wednesday from among four almost-full flights from the UK. They heard rep Ondine Pannell say: “There are a lot of changes in Tunisia and still some protests going on. As a responsible tour operator, we have put together a limited programme.”


The tour operator has cancelled its usual excursions to Tunis, El Jem and the Sahara while it reviews the situation daily. Three people were reported killed by security forces in Tunis on Saturday during demonstrations demanding the resignation of prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, an associate of the ousted President Ben Ali who was toppled on January 15. Ghannouchi resigned the next day.


Thomas Cook mainstream tour operations head of destination Mark Littlefair said: “Excursions to Tunis are cancelled because of what happened last weekend. The Sahara excursions are cancelled because of what is happening on the border with Libya.”


Laribi said: “We have some tour operators organising excursions. There are some regions where there are still protests to keep the pressure on the interim government, but there is no violence.”


He added: “There is still frustration and Tunis is the capital – it is a mirror that reflects all of Tunisia.” But he said there was no violence associated with the demonstrations.