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Tunisia tourism exodus continues

Tunisia tourism exodus continues

The tourist exodus from Tunisia continues as the police and armed forces in the north African nation struggle to stave off civil war, and the unofficial death toll passes 100.

Mercy flights continued over the weekend, and it is thought that virtually all package holidaymakers have now been repatriated, whilst some independent travellers remain in the country, including some 1,500 Britons.

Among them were holidaymakers who were actually flown to Tunis by British Airways on Friday.

BA has come under heavy criticism for flying into the “warzone” despite warnings from the FCO for Britons to leave. It has said it cannot change its schedule and the next flight home will not be until Wednesday.

A spokesman for the airline said: “We have six flights a week to Tunis and if those are fully booked we cannot put on extra to get people out.”


Both Thomas Cook and Thomson First Choice have cancelled forthcoming ¬Tunisian winter sun breaks.

The Foreign Office last night advised Brits “to leave Tunisia unless they have a pressing need to remain”.

The country’s ousted president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia following a month of violent protests over poverty, jobs and ¬repression.

Forty-two people died in a fire at a prison in Monastir and 1,000 inmates were freed from Mahdia jail after a riot on Saturday.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has said the new government will be announced today.

He said on state TV: “It will open a new page in the history of Tunisia.”

Police arrested dozens of people, including the head of security, Ali Seriati and his deputy, who were charged with conspiring against state security, aggressive acts and “provoking disorder, murder and pillaging,” the TAP state news agency reported.

The FCO said that tour operators who still have passengers stranded were Cosmos, Trailfinders, Expedia, and the timeshare company RCI.

A spokesman for Tui said: “All of our package tourists have been repatriated.”

Alison Wallace, for Thomas Cook, said: “We organised six flights specially on Friday to bring 1,500 people home, out of 1,800 customers who were in Tunisia, and then additional flights on Saturday and Sunday to ensure that customer safety was not jeopardised.”