Comment: Tunisia exit sets precedent

Shortly after the atrocity in Tunisia, I spoke to a director from Tui who’d been on the ground in Sousse as the operator dealt with the aftermath.

Not surprisingly, he said it had been one of the toughest weeks of his life.

But he also said one of the most heartbreaking moments was when a Tunisian woman who ran a hairdressing salon in one of the hotels begged him to bring tourists back.

Her livelihood and that of her family was at risk.

Sadly, there will be thousands of other Tunisians with similar stories.

Their dedication to serving British tourists – and courage in the face of the attack – was not enough to stop the exodus sparked by advice to ‘get out’ from foreign secretary Philip Hammond.

The safety of customers must always be the priority, so you can see why the UK government erred on the side of caution, prompting operators to withdraw completely.

But you can also see why the Tunisian government feels it has been deserted in one of its darkest hours.

It is a sad fact that a terrorist atrocity could be around the corner in many of the destinations that are so popular with Britons and, indeed, on our own doorstep.

While the decision to exit Tunisia may ensure we don’t see another such attack there this summer, it also sets a precedent that could have massive implications for the industry.

But, as former Federation of Tour Operators boss Andy Cooper said to me this week, agents must continue to encourage people to travel. “A life lived in fear is not one worth living,” he said.

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