Sunday 23 October 2016

Should I go ahead with my Tunisia holiday?

Published 30/06/2015 | 02:30

Police patrol the beach
Police patrol the beach

Travel advice for those planning on travel to Tunisia

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Is travel to Tunisia safe or not?

Friday's terrorist incident is over, but the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) current travel advice is to "exercise extreme caution".

It recommends vigilance, and advises holidaymakers to follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and keep in touch with their tour operator.

According to the UK Foreign Office, "further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in tourist resorts, are possible, including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities and whose actions are inspired by terrorist groups via social media".

Neither, however, has yet declared travel in Tunisia to be unsafe, or even to avoid non-essential travel - the alert level below its 'red flag'. Irish citizens in Tunisia can register on the DFA's citizens' registration database so that it can contact them in case of urgency. You can call the DFA on 01 408-2000.

Are Irish tour operators still flying to Tunisia?

"Our flights are operating as normal to Tunisia," Sunway Travel says.

The company operates a weekly charter (Friday) from Dublin. Customers can book Tunisia packages directly through Sunway, or via local travel agents who book through Sunway, and another operator sharing the charter, Just Sunshine.

The situation is evolving, however, and Sunway is currently working with the DFA, Tunisian authorities and Irish travel agents to figure out next steps.

If the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and/or DFA deem travel to Tunisia to be unsafe, or advise against non-essential travel, then tour operators will cancel holidays.

In this eventuality, holidaymakers will be entitled to full refunds.

I don't want to travel. What happens if I cancel?

Sunway is offering refunds for Tunisia holidays departing this Friday, July 3 only (i.e. not for July 10 and subsequent dates).

Customers booked to travel this Friday can also change to an alternative holiday, either paying or being refunded the price difference. Sunway's Tunisia hotline is 01 231-1805.

Strictly speaking, if you cancel your holiday without the FCO or DFA declaring travel to Tunisia to be unsafe, it could be deemed "disinclination to travel". As such, you may have to give up your deposit, pay a cancellation fee or forfeit some or all of the cost.

Will my travel insurance cover a cancellation?

Having the appropriate travel insurance in place can defray these costs... but you need to check the small print in your policy.

If the DFA declares travel to Tunisia to be unsafe, you will be entitled to a full refund. You are unlikely to claim successfully if you are simply nervous about travel, however.

Did last Friday's 15.30 flight from Dublin depart as planned?

A Sunway charter flight which was operated by Aer Lingus (EI4490) was due to depart for Monastir at 15.30 on Friday. This departed at 18.58.

Of 171 customers booked on the flight, 59 opted not to travel. Sunway offered these passengers a full refund.

What are travel agents saying?

The Irish Travel Agents Association has issued a statement saying its members are "striving to keep customers informed and facilitate anyone who needs to change their travel plans".

Wasn't there another terrorist attack in Tunisia this year?

Tunisia has been on high alert since March 18 of this year, when terrorists attacked the Bardo National Museum in central Tunis. Twenty-four people were killed in the attack, including 20 foreign tourists, and many others were injured.

Irish Independent

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