Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Should I cancel Tunisia break because of North Africa 'terror risk'?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Thursday 24 January 2013
Q. I have just booked a week in Tunisia with First Choice in May 2013. I am a woman travelling alone with two children. I am now scared because of what happened in Algeria and the prime minister saying North Africa is a terrorist risk. Should I cancel my holiday, also do I have all my deposit back if I booked less than 14 days ago.
A. Don’t cancel. Partly because there is no “cooling-off” period when you buy a holiday, and you will lose your deposit. But mostly because the overwhelming odds are that you will have a great holiday. May is the ideal time to visit Tunisia: it will feel fresh and spring-like, with warm sunshine – but not the sometimes extreme heat of high summer.
As a First Choice customer, you are by definition booked at an all-inclusive resort, but do try to escape the gilded cage to meet the friendly locals, experience daily life and perhaps make an excursion into the desert or to the capital, Tunis.
Tunisia is where the “Arab Spring” began two years ago. During the overthrow of President Ben Ali, and in the time since then, not a single tourist has been harmed as a result of the political upheavals. Even though Tunisia is sandwiched between Algeria and Libya, both of them wracked by violence, the country remains broadly safe. Tunisia is heavily dependent on tourism, and the government is keen to ensure security for visitors – as do the locals you will encounter, both in your hotel and elsewhere.
The Foreign Office warns that “Following French military intervention in Mali, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting Western interests in the region,” but I would feel as comfortable taking my children to Tunisia this year as I did when we visited the country last year.
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