Tunisia urges Britain to revoke travel warning

AFP , Monday 27 Jun 2016

Tunisia said Monday it has urged Britain to revoke a travel warning issued after an Islamist militant attack on a beach in the country killed 30 British holidaymakers last year.

Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui made the request during talks in Tunis with Tobias Ellwood, a British parliamentary under secretary of state in charge of Middle East and North African affairs.

A Tunisian foreign ministry statement said that during Sunday's talks Jhinaoui called for Britain "to review its decision to advise its citizens against travelling to Tunisia".

Jhinaoui said Tunisia had taken "measures to fight against terrorism and to secure tourist zones and protect tourists", the statement read.

In June last year, a Tunisian gunman opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at a beach resort near Sousse, killing 38 tourists, all but eight of them Britons.

Ellwood took part Sunday in a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the June 26, 2015 killings.

After the shootings, Britain issued an official advice warning against all but essential travel to Tunisia.

The bloodbath at Port El Kantaoui was the second of two deadly Islamist militant attacks claimed by the Islamic State group to hit Tunisia's once lucrative tourism sector.

It came months after 21 tourists and a policeman were killed in an attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis.

In May, British travel agents said more Britons are set to spend their summer holidays this year in Spain and Portugal as demand for sunshine breaks in Tunisia and Egypt -- which was also been by deadly violence last year -- declines.

Before the 2011 revolution, Tunisia attracted almost seven million visitors each year, with its lucrative tourism sector accounting for seven percent of gross domestic product.

A year on, the country's tourism sector is still reeling.

Revenues for the first quarter of this year were down by 51.7 percent compared with last year, according to the central bank.

European visitors to the country in 2015 had already dropped by 65.8 percent compared with 2010.

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