Tunisia extends state of emergency

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Tourism Tunisia

Move follows recent attack by suspected extremist

Tunisia’s president has opted to extend a state of emergency in the country for another three months, the Associated Press writes, following a recent attack by a suspected Islamic extremist.

President Beji Caid Essebsi’s decision comes after a police commander was stabbed to death by a suspected extremist close to Tunisia’s parliament earlier this month.

In place since November 2015, the state of emergency gives additional powers to police, for example to ban strikes and gatherings. It was first imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus that month.

Large-scale terrorist attacks took place in Tunisia in 2015, including at the Bardo Museum in Tunis where 22 people were killed and, a few months later, an attack on a beach hotel near Sousse that killed 38 people.

Attacks “very likely”
Travel advice continues to warn of further attacks in Tunisia. The UK’s Foreign Office (FCO) relaxed its advice against all but essential to large parts of Tunisia in June, prompting Thomas Cook to reinstate its holiday and flight program from February 2018.

However, the FCO continues to warn travellers that terrorists are “very likely” to carry out attacks in Tunisia, with a “heightened risk” of terrorism against aviation. But it notes that “Tunisian authorities have improved security in tourist resorts and their ability to respond to a terrorist incident”.

Speaking to TTG Media at the World Travel Market this month, the country’s tourism minister, Selma Elloumi Rekik, said visitor numbers were on the rise since the FCO relaxed its advice.

“It is important to make clear that the decision on security was made independently, and it was not a political one, she said.

The country has seen a 23% rise in overseas arrivals so far this year, with especially strong increases from France and Germany (48%), while the Scandinavian markets and Belgium are also growing fast.

Meanwhile, Tunisia is in the final stages of negotiating with the European Union to secure an ‘open skies’ aviation agreement, “important for tour operators because they will have their own aircraft and it will be cheaper for them [to fly to Tunisia],” the minister said.

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