Slaughter on the beach in Sousse

beach at Sousse

Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began, when a stallholder set fire to himself. This spark spread across the Middle East. In Tunisia it brought down the repressive regime.

These days were days of hope, but now seem long gone. We have a repressive regime in Turkey and Egypt. Tunisia is one of the biggest suppliers of men to ISIS. They are now returning home.

In Tunisia, an attack on a hotel in Sousse. An attack in a museum. A chilling video from ISIS warning of attacks on tourists.

The cell responsible for the museum attack were arrested and interrogated, they warned of terrorist attacks on tourists.

What advice were travellers given when they walked into a Thomson travel shop and wished to book a holiday in Tunisia? Were they warned of the risks.

Er no, they were not.

Worse still, when Thomson were asked about the risks, they were told there were no risks, they told who inquired, security had been stepped up.

Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire in Sousse on 26 June 2015, shooting 38 people dead including 30 Brits

According to those who were at the hotel where the most recent attack took place, where 30 British tourists were gunned down on the beach and within the hotel, the security was more lax than when they had stayed previously at the hotel. In total 38 people were killed by the gunman, armed with a Kalishnikov and grenades.

And as tourist figures were dropping, Thomson were doing promotions to encourage tourists to the hotel.

The hotel where the massacred happened, was co-owned by tui. They have since pulled the plug, washing their hands when the tourist industry in Tunisia collapsed.

Survivors have said, had they known of the risks, they would not have gone. Others have said when they learnt of the risks and wished to cancel, Thomson refused to give them a refund.

Sickening listening to the hypocrisy of tui UK boss Nick Longman trying to defend the action of tui.

Abta as usual can be relied upon to defend tui. Yes, Thomson has a duty of care, then in the same breath, terrorism can happen anywhere.

Yes, terrorism can happen anywhere, what is of concern is how high the risk, in Tunisia it was high and Thomson failed to inform travellers.

There is an obligation upon travellers to check, but equally, travel agents should do more than point to a few pretty pictures in a brochure and relieve travellers of their money. They should have warned those booking for Sousse of the known risks for Tunisia, of recent travel attacks, of warning from ISIS, advised of the Foreign Office travel advice, they failed to do so.

A lone Muslim fundamentalist went on a killing spree. A man not known to the authorities. The police failed to act promptly. The security at the hotel was poor. In nearby hotels, security had been beefed up, but not at the hotel tui co-owned. The hotel to which tui sent 30 Brits to their death.

Two months on from the Sousse massacre the cell rounded up in connection with the museum attack have been quietly released.

In March 2015, 24 people were killed in a terror attack at Bardo National Museum in the capital Tunis. Some of the families of those caught in the Sousse attack said they had been assured by the travel company that it was safe to travel to Tunisia after the Bardo attack.

Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse on 26 June 2015, leaving 38 people dead in the worst terror attack involving Brits since 7/7 in London in 2005.

The ruling by the Coroner that tui were not at fault is seen by many as perverse. The ruling was that they were there voluntarily, ie no one forced them to be there. Yes, but on the advice given or in many cases not given by Thomson. The survivors are now to take their own civil legal action against tui (owners of Thomson and at the time co-owners of the hotel). And good luck to them. I am sure many would happily contribute to an appeal to help them fight their case.

Tour companies are now under pressure to provide better advice to travellers.

Not advising travellers of problems is nothing new to tui and Thomson. Whilst not in the same league as sending travellers to their death, it is indicative of all that is wrong with Thomson. Last year, Thomson dumped holiday makers at a hotel in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife that was a building site. Thomson knew it was a building site, but they did not care. It was hard hat area, guests were put at risk. Thomson has to date failed to pay compensation.

Turkey and Egypt have repressive regimes, arbitrary arrests and torture of critics of the regimes, harassment of journalists, closure of a free press, a high risk of terrorists attacks, and yet Thomson and tui are still sending travellers to these countries.

Corporate greed rules ok.

The tragedy, apart from the loss of lives, is the damage to the tourist industry in Tunisia. Down by over 90% and unlikely to recover in the near future. ISIS has succeeded in its aim of destroying the Tunisian tourist industry, helped by Thomson providing them with the targets.

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