Please note – the views in the following feature are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Safe Travels Magazine. Before travel, we recommend that you always do your own research, read travel advisories and buy appropriate travel insurance.

In June 2015, the UK Government imposed a travel ban on Tunisia in the wake of the Sousse attack. After two years, this was recently lifted. In light of this, we used the seventh piece in our ‘Is it safe to …?‘ series to ask a range of experts if it is safe to go to Tunisia.

Government travel advice

Links to travel advice on visiting Tunisia from the following governments –

Please note that the travel advice varies – it is worth reading them all and reaching your own conclusion.

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Jamie Thomson at Northcott Global Solutions

Email: risk@northcottglobalsolutions.com
Website: http://www.northcottglobalsolutions.com/
Twitter: @NorthcottGS

Northcott Global Solutions is the new generation of global emergency response, and the only dedicated political, natural disaster and medical Evacuation provider designed to meet modern, commercial travel patterns. NGS has a particular expertise in drafting bespoke political reports for travellers and investors to fragile and conflict-affected states.

How safe is it to visit Tunisia?

Tunisia, like most of the Islamic Maghreb, remains unsafe to visit without a thorough understanding of the security situation, and without appropriate measures in place to mitigate the security risks. A national state of emergency has been in place (and renewed repeatedly) since the 2015 terrorist attack on Western tourists, apparently committed by a member of Islamic State.

Since the Arab Spring, Tunisia has made some political developments and has developed good relationships with Western democracies, but it has declined economically, all reasons that lead to risks including extremist violence. This violence is likely to remain an ongoing problem.

The Arab Spring brought increased freedom to a lot of organisations, but with increasing violence in the nation, many organisations have left altogether, and most governments advise against non-essential travel.

What are the biggest risks?

Tunisia remains at high risk from terrorist violence because of its large (if declining) tourist industry, and because of the poor standard of the security services (a reflection of the tension between state-level anti-terrorism and the government’s preference for populist Islamism). Foreign tourists are easy targets for terrorists, and if security forces are weakly equipped, badly trained or poorly paid, then alert states make little difference. Current information indicates that terrorists are planning further attacks in Tunisian tourist areas.

The biggest risk in Tunisia is that posed by Islamist terrorism, particularly from units affiliated to Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Islamic State, and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.

Tunisia provides a significant number of young militants for Islamic State operations in Syria and Iraq. This creates the risk that young men with military skills and a violent temperament will return to Tunisia and continue their agenda. They may claim direct connections with Islamic State, or they may establish new units. Furthermore, foreign extremists are likely to gain access to Tunisia through the porous Libyan border. The collapse of the Libyan state has led to the emergence of many organisations with links to Islamic State or Al Qaeda, who will embrace the opportunity to broaden their struggle.

The government is trying to combat Islamist terrorism, to mitigate the associated risks. It has increased security nationwide, deployed armed guards to tourist resorts, and conducted operations to detain suspected terrorists and arms traffickers throughout the country. However, particularly in the border regions with Libya and Algeria, political and social instability can be directly related to the presence of extremists.

What are the overlooked risks?

Economic deterioration (due to a significant decline of tourism, fragile national politics, and slow economic recovery in nations to which Tunisia has close ties) has increased the risk of young people being radicalised by extremists. However, it has also created the risk of violent crime against travellers. Since the Arab Spring, the economy has declined, increasing economic imbalance and leaving many young people unemployed: travellers (particularly those who are not careful to hide their wealth) are at risk of armed robbery, theft, burglary, and fraud. Economic recovery is slow, and job opportunities remain limited.

Economic decline has also led to the risk of corruption, which can significantly reduce government income, so further limiting opportunities for improved security services and counter-extremist operations.

Economic and political chaos also lead to the risk of public disorder. Unrest has been conducted since 2011 for political, economic and social reasons, and can take the form of strikes, roadblocks and violent demonstrations. These often involve powerful trade unions, and usually either the military or police. This disorder gives further opportunities for extremists to recruit operators and conduct terrorism, and can lead to traffic disruption and interruption of key services.

As a weak economy provides opportunities in crime and corruption, so it increases the likelihood of trafficking. The most significant form of this is people trafficking, sometimes involving children, prostitutes and forced labour, but mostly involving migrants who have fled sub-Saharan Africa and seek a passage across the Mediterranean to Europe. There is a risk that travellers will be disrupted by any of these activities or associated security operations.

With ongoing political, economic and social problems, it is easy to forget the health risks that face a traveller to Tunisia. Hepatitis A, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and foot-and-mouth disease are all found in Tunisia, and medical facilities are overcrowded, understaffed, and lack resources.

How should people mitigate this?

Travellers to Tunisia should:

  • consider the use of a global emergency assistance company to monitor their travel routine and provide any necessary support.
  • avoid any travel to the border areas, the Chaambi Mountain National Park, and the militarised zone south of El Borma and Dhehiba.
  • remain vigilant in any crowded area, particularly transport hubs or tourist attractions, for violent or petty crime.
  • leave important possessions in a trusted safe rather than walking through a town with passports and credit cards in pockets.
  • avoid travelling around urban areas alone, particularly after dark.
  • monitor local news services for any planned unrest or disruption.
  • stay clear of any large crowds, particularly outside government buildings.
  • not provoke security forces, and always follow instructions.
  • ensure that, when travelling, they have a back-up route available, in case there are any disturbances on the roads.
  • not travel to Tunisia without ensuring that they are correctly immunised against all potential health risks.

What duty of care provisions should employers sending staff to Tunisia have in place? What should employees ask for?

Employers should firstly ensure that they understand all the risks involved with operating in Tunisia. These will involve not just security risks, but also operational risks (including associated business risks), political risks and travel risks. Risks are dependent upon regions being visited, so employers are advised to obtain a bespoke risk assessment, specific to the regions, the time of year, and the risk profile of the employees involved.

Secondly, employers should consider using trusted emergency assistance companies that make use of local security staff, to provide close protection, driving, and interpretation, to smooth the passage of any employees in country, specifically in higher risk areas.

Thirdly, employers should have in place a crisis management or emergency evacuation plan in case the situation deteriorates. This can be done via insurance companies, or directly via global emergency assistance companies, and should include medical evacuation and the particular areas being accessed.

Employees should ask that their employers fully understand the environment in Tunisia and all the associated risks.


Tim Crockett at Healix International & HX Global

Email: tim.crockett@hx-global.com
Twitter: @hxtimcrock
Website: www.hx-global.com

Tim Crockett is Vice President – Security for HX Global. based out of Atlanta, GA. HX-Global is the US subsidiary of Healix International a Global Leader in International Medical, Security and Travel assistance providers. Prior to joining HX Global, Tim worked as Senior Director of Global Security Operations for Turner Inc. and prior that that had worked as a consultant to CNN for 12 years.

How safe is it to visit Tunisia?

After nearly 2 years the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has lifted restrictions to the North African country. While ‘security’ has improved, especially along the areas of the coast and resort areas there is still the potential to see further attacks given the regional threats, porous borders and proximity to militants.

What are the biggest risks?

With a risk of militancy throughout Tunisia, there is a heightened risk in areas located close to the Algerian border where a largely porous border and rugged mountainous terrain has encouraged a proliferation of terrorist groups. Similarly, widespread insecurity is found in neighbouring Libya so it is advisable to avoid travel to the border areas.

What are the overlooked risks?

Petty crime is a problem throughout Tunisia, however violent crimes are rare. Pickpockets and thieves tend to target business travellers, due to their perceived wealth. It is advised that personal possessions are not left in parked cars. Crimes tend to occur in highly populated tourist regions.

Harassment of females is reported in hotels and more so in urban centres. The harassment of foreign women, including uninvited physical contact, appears to be increasing in recent years.

Driving is dangerous in Tunisia. Local driving standards are very poor, with ignorance towards regulations and traffic lights, both posing a threat to visiting drivers. Lane markings are ignored and bicycles and motorcycles travel with insufficient lighting, making it difficult for drivers. Travel in the desert areas of southern Tunisia also poses challenges. Roads are not paved and visibility tends to be poor.

How should people mitigate this?

This very much depends on the destination and the ‘why’ of travel but with counter-terror operations proving effective and preventing the majority of attacks, travel to Tunisia can proceed; however, we advise against all non-essential travel to high risk areas on the Algerian and Libyan borders.

The government remains committed in its efforts to reduce the likelihood and impact of attacks. And a heightened security posture will likely continue over the coming months, so travelers should remain vigilant to suspicious behaviour and packages, particularly in priority target locations such as areas frequented by foreign nationals and security infrastructure. Those traveling should maintain a heightened sense of awareness and follow routine safety advice, such as the following;

Monitor the local news to stay up to speed on developments that may result in civil unrest. Familiarise yourself with Tunis and check if there have been any civil disturbances in the last few months. Register with your embassy and ask about receiving alerts on specific events.

Where possible, avoid unnecessary time spent at known flashpoints such as government buildings and university campuses. Do not stop to watch disturbances as this could threaten your personal safety. In the event of unrest, business travellers are not likely to be at direct risk, but should avoid large crowds and gatherings as a security precaution.

Be aware that gatherings often occur spontaneously and deteriorate at short notice. If you encounter a crowd of protesters its best to vacate the area immediately and return to secure office buildings or accommodation until the situation is contained.

If you are visiting a destination that has been or is likely to be subject to riots or civil unrest, consider the following: Study various escape routes to get out of the area, decide on some likely places to retreat to in the event of disturbances, and pack a bailout backpack and emergency supplies for a few days in it.

If you are caught outside in the middle of a riot or unrest, do not appear to take sides or attempt to photograph or film events, move at right angles out of the crowd and find the nearest building to seek refuge. Avoid drawing attention to yourself. Keep your head down and avoid confrontation.  Walk rather than run to avoid attracting attention. If you are caught in the middle of a riot or unrest while in a vehicle: remain inside your vehicle unless it has become the focus of the protest, and avoid major roads and anticipate roadblocks.

Exercise higher levels of vigilance than you would normally owing to the threat posed by militancy. Be alert to suspicious packages and behaviour, and report any such activity to a security guard, member of staff or a police officer. If you ever feel uncomfortable about a situation you should vacate the area as a precautionary measure.

Reduce risk exposure. Travel to potential target locations – including hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, tourist attractions, transport hubs, religious institutions, government offices, military facilities, Western embassies, foreign commercial interests and public transport – can continue but you should minimise time spent in the foyer, entrance or other easily accessible areas, as these typically experience high volumes of casualties during attacks. When you enter a shopping centre or public building, identify the nearest emergency exit and minimise time in the most accessible part of the building.

Maintain a low profile and avoid overt signs of wealth. Keep valuables close on your possession and not in exposed pockets etc. Leave high value items at your accommodation or, if not essential, don’t bring them into country at all.

Minimise time spent in crowds or in higher risk areas such as transport hubs. Be alert to your surroundings and treat offers/requests for assistance by strangers with suspicion. If inadvertently touched or knocked, immediately check your valuables. Exercise a high degree of vigilance, particularly around the Medina.

Keep itinerary information on a need-to-know basis and be discreet in interactions with unknown people. Be sure to verify the identity of any meet and greets. Do not reveal details of your itinerary to strangers.  Keep hotel details and contact number to yourself. Be aware that criminals have been known to pose as friendly passers-by / strangers so as to obtain information about a specific target prior to conducting an attack.

Avoid unnecessary travel on public transport. It is a standard security precaution to avoid using buses and trains in areas you are not familiar with, owing to the risk of petty crime. In Tunis, taxis recommended by hotels are a safe and reliable option.

What duty of care provisions should employers sending staff to Tunisia have in place? What should employees ask for?

Ensure all staff are aware of the risk prior to travel and that they are trained to manage these risks to their well-being. Ensure that those traveling have a robust means to communicate with their employer and that there is a robust travel risk management program in place to support all business travel and activities while in Tunisia.


James Pothecary at Allan & Associates

Email: jpothecary@allan-assoc.com
Website: www.allan-assoc.com
Twitter: @A2Globalrisk

James Pothecary is a London-based political and security risk analyst specialising in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. James works at Allan & Associates, a security risk management agency, which provides a wide range of protective services from travel risk assessments to crisis management response.

How safe is it to visit Tunisia?

The Bardo National Museum and Sousse mass-shooting attacks of 2015, which left dozens of foreign tourists dead, propelled the Tunisian security environment into international consciousness. The tourist industry partially collapsed due to global fears of a repeat occurrence, and various diplomatic services – including the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office – continue to issue travel advisories warning against travel to parts of the country.

However, as recent events in London and Paris, amongst other European cities, have shown, no country is immune from the threat of terrorism. The Tunisian government has bolstered its own counter-terrorism capability, and have arrested thousands during wide-ranging security sweeps. A2 assesses that individuals will likely be able to visit Tunisian urban zones without incident.

That said, no country has a homogenous risk profile, and Tunisia is no exception. There is, for example, a much poorer security environment in the rural south-east, as the Tunisian-Libyan border remains insecure due to endemic instability on the Libyan side, and the presence of armed smugglers on both sides of the border.

What are the biggest risks?

There is a high-impact low-probability risk of another large-scale terror attack, although the statistical likelihood of being caught up in such an event is small. That said, Tunisia is easily accessible for a variety of Islamist non-state armed groups, including Islamic State militants based in its eastern neighbour, Libya. Furthermore, elements of the Tunisian population have proven receptive to Islamic State’s messages – as evidenced by the number of Tunisian fighters present in Syria and Iraq – and the chance of further attacks by home-grown Tunisian militant cells against undefended ‘soft’ civilian targets remains high over the one-year outlook.

Although A2 recognises that recent outbreaks of civil unrest over socio-economic grievances in rural governorates can appear alarming, these demonstrations are overwhelmingly peaceful and should not pose a threat to individuals in-country. The risk of escalation to the point where deployed staff are at risk is, at this stage, negligible.

What are the overlooked risks?

Tunisia has recently passed new legislation designed to prevent violence against women, and the president has openly called for gender equality with respect to inheritance. Despite Tunisia’s reputation for tolerance compared to a number of other Middle East and North African (Mena) countries, LGBTQ, non-Caucasian or Arab individuals, as well as those publicly displaying non-Muslim religious symbols, face the risk of harassment from the local population. Certain behaviour can even lead to arrest by security forces on grounds under vaguely worded anti-proselytising and public decency laws. Although such personnel will be able to travel to Tunisia without incident, they should consider if they are comfortable doing so.

How should people mitigate this?

For the majority of Tunisia, basic security procedures will be a proportionate risk-mitigation strategy. Avoiding walking alone in unfamiliar areas, eschewing carrying large quantities of valuables and only using radio-dispatch cars. These common-sense steps, which should be observed anywhere in the world, will substantially reduce the risk facing individuals in Tunisia. Individuals resident in Tunisia long-term should take care not to become complacent and relax their guard.

What duty of care provisions should employers sending staff to Tunisia have in place? What should employees ask for?

Managers intending to station staff in Tunisia should ensure they are given comprehensive briefings over cultural norms and relevant legislation before deployment. This both reduces ‘culture shock’ and the risk of personnel inadvertently falling foul of Tunisian law.

Employers should ensure that there are robust response plans in place to deal with a variety of scenarios, and that these procedures are known to all deployed staff. This could include shelter-in-place plans, to be enacted in the event of escalating civil unrest, emergency communications mechanisms – to ascertain staff whereabouts in the event of a terror event – and emergency withdrawal plans, should Tunisian national stability rapidly decrease.

Escalated security arrangements should be implemented for staff transiting the more dangerous border zones. Vehicles should be armoured to at least a B4 ballistic protection standard, and crewed by trained and trusted drivers. Such vehicles should also contain emergency supplies, including a first-aid kit, vehicle repair kit, plenty of water, maps and a radio.


Bilal Bassiouni at S-RM

Email address: b.bassiouni@s-rminform.com
Website: http://s-rminform.com/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4314050

Bilal Bassiouni is a Middle East and North Africa Political and Country Risk Analyst at S-RM, with a particular focus on the countries of North Africa. S-RM is a consultancy firm providing risk management, business intelligence and cyber-security services globally.

How safe is it to visit Tunisia?

Tunisia’s security environment has significantly improved since late 2016, however, travellers should remain cautious due to the enduring threat of terrorism. Following a number of other European countries, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) amended the travel status of Tunisia from ‘essential travel only’ to ‘safe for tourists to visit’ in July 2017. The FCO had previously advised against tourists visiting Tunisia, following a terrorist attack at the Sousse resort in June 2015 that resulted in 37 deaths. 2017 has, however, seen an expected rise in the number of visitors to Tunisia due to the observed calm since 2016. This is in part due to the security improvements that the Tunisian authorities and tourist industry have made, with support from international partners. However, levels of security risk vary across Tunisia and depend on the region that you are travelling to. Travellers should exercise vigilance while traveling to areas outside of Tunis and the coastal region, and remain alert to local security developments. The towns of Kasserine, Remada, Nefta, all areas within 30 km of the Algerian border, and within 20 km of the Libya border, including the town of Ben Guerdane, are high-risk zones, and all but essential travel to these regions should be avoided. Additionally, Chaambi Mountains National Park, and the area south of Al Borma and Dhehiba towns, are designated military operations zones and should be avoided completely.

What are the biggest risks?

Terrorist attacks pose the biggest risk in Tunisia. Although the Tunisian government has taken important steps to mitigate this risk, terrorist attacks remain likely, including places visited by foreign nationals such as tourist resorts. Individual affiliates or sympathisers of the Islamic State (IS) are the main threat actors. While no incidents of terrorism have been reported since 2016, IS continues to declare its intent to stage attacks against foreign targets in Tunisia. A number of other militant Islamist groups are present in the country, including Katibat Uqba bin Nafi, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Ansar Al Sharia Tunisia (AST). These groups maintain a low-level insurgency, and mostly target security forces in the western interior region, particularly the mountainous ranges of Kasserine, Kef, and Jendouba governorates (which include Chaambi Mountains National Park, Semmama, and Selloum). As a result, security forces regularly conduct search and destroy operations in the area.

The Tunisian government has undertaken massive improvements to provide security across border areas, in tourist resorts, and in the authority’s ability to respond to a terrorist attack. Government security forces, including the army, police, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia. Tunisian security forces regularly report that they have disrupted planned attacks, uncovered terrorist cells, and made arrests across Tunisia. While the increase in the capabilities of local security forces mitigates the risk of terrorism, the risk is unlikely to be completely eliminated in the short-term. A countrywide state of emergency has been renewed repeatedly since November 2015, and is expected to continue in the long term. Under the emergency laws, authorities can ban strikes and meetings that might provoke or cause disorder, temporarily close theatres and bars, and secure control over the press and other publications.

What are the overlooked risks?

Risks related to political, social and economic unrest are often neglected. Travellers should be aware that political demonstrations and protests are regularly organised throughout the country, and are advised to avoid all protests and areas where large crowds gather. In Tunis, this includes the Bardo district where government buildings located. Tunisia continues to face economic challenges, including significant unemployment and poverty rates, especially among the youth in rural governorates. Civil unrest is particularly common in the interior regions, including but not limited to, Kasserine, Gafsa Sidi Bouzid, and Medenine governorates, and particularly in the border town of Ben Guerdane. Demonstrations have previously become violent and have resulted in clashes with security forces. In January 2016, violent protests occurred in Kasserine City, the death of a student during a previous demonstration. In May 2017, one person was killed after a national guard vehicle ran him over, and dozens of others were injured after protesters clashed with security forces in Tataouine Governorate, southern Tunisia.

Additionally, crime poses a risk to tourist safety in Tunisia. Most reported criminal incidents against foreign nationals are low impact and opportunistic, such as pickpocketing, purse-snatching, phone snatching and petty theft. Cases have been reported of individuals on motor scooters attempting to snatch valuables from pedestrians during both day and night. Personal attacks and muggings are rare, but they do occur. Victims are generally targeted when travelling alone after dark, or if they appear unfamiliar with their surroundings. Vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins also occur rarely. Within other larger urban centres such as Tunis, Sfax and Sousse, high-impact violent crimes such as sexual assault and armed robbery have been reported, although perpetrators are more likely to use a knife or machete than a firearm. Reports of harassment targeting foreign women, including uninvited physical contact, are on the rise. Women in particular should maintain a general level of personal security awareness, and avoid traveling to secluded areas alone, particularly at night.

Road accidents are frequently an overlooked risk in Tunisia. Although road standards are generally reasonable, driving standards are mostly erratic. In a 2016 report by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), Tunisia had the second-worst traffic death rate per capita in North Africa, behind Libya. Travellers should avoid driving on their own, and where possible, make use of licensed taxis and hotel shuttle services.

How should people mitigate this?

Pre-travel planning, including identifying the security risks specific to the region(s) that you will be travelling to, is required. This will allow you to assess where you are vulnerable and to implement the necessary measures to limit threats to your safety.

Personal/Travel

  • Do not display cash, mobile phones, cameras or any other valuables, especially when travelling at night
  • Do not travel to higher risk or remote areas unless necessary. Visitors are advised to contact S-RM’s Risk Management team in this regard to ensure safe entry and exit from these regions.
  • Keep doors and windows locked at all times when driving, and do not open them if anyone tries to get your attention at traffic lights.
  • Dress down and don’t have valuables in sight. Limit visible jewellery, handbags and electronics. If you must carry a wallet or purse, remove all valuable or hard-to-replace items.
  • Always carry a mobile in case of an emergency (if travelling to remote desert areas, consider the need for a satellite phone).
  • Where possible, and particularly outside of Tunis, use trusted transport providers arranged through travel agents, company drivers and hotels for all transportation.
  • Use popular taxi mobile applications wherever possible, as this is a fixed price and the journey is monitored. Otherwise use licensed taxis in Tunis. Note the taxi’s license number and ensure before travel that the metre is working properly.
  • Ride in the back seat of taxis and in the middle row or seat in minivans. If a driver is not complying with good driving standards, get out as soon as possible.

Protest

  • Avoid crowds, protests and demonstrations. Familiarise yourself with local conditions prior to travel.
  • Ascertain if there are often protests in the area, what these were related to and how the authorities responded. If a demonstration is taking place locally, if possible leave the area or stay indoors.
  • If directly caught up in protests or demonstrations stay at the edges of the crowd, and attempt to leave the area at the first opportunity. If possible seek refuge in nearby buildings and stay away from crowd agitators and demonstration leaders.
  • If in a larger group ensure you all remain in visual contact with one another, and allocate a rendezvous point known to all in the group in the event of the group becoming split up.

Terrorism

  • Remain vigilant at all times and aware of your surroundings.
  • Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behaviour. Report suspicious behaviour to security personnel or local authorities immediately.
  • Leave an area if at any time you feel threatened or uncomfortable.
  • Be wary of suspicious packages and letters. These could contain explosives or chemical or biological agents. Report any suspicious packages to security or call the police.
  • When travelling, do not leave luggage unattended.
  • Consider and plan in advance how to get out of a building or public area in the event of an attack. Know where the emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent.
  • If in a building located near the site of a terrorist attack, stay away from the windows. When safe, leave the building and get as far away as possible. Do not loiter in the area.
  • In the event of a shooting, follow UK and US guidance – run, hide, tell (fight [US]). When hiding ensure you are in cover (behind something that will stop a bullet – preferably a 7.62 round), as well as hidden from sight.

What duty of care provisions should employers sending staff to Tunisia have in place? What should employees ask for?

The FCO and US State Department webpages are a good place to start to for basic travel advice, threat ratings, recent threat warnings, and they will often dictate areas to avoid.

  • Research crime and civil unrest hotspots specific to the locations you will travel before you travel and avoid them. Embassies will be able to assist if required. These areas might include slums, poor neighbourhoods, places where tourists gather in public, large squares, roundabouts etc.
  • Research visas/ languages / ticketing / currency(s) used / plugs / phones as well as the security environment before you travel
  • Establish check-in procedures. Ensure people are aware of your itinerary throughout your trip.
  • Make sure employees are aware of their medical coverage, emergency numbers and policy number.
  • Increase travellers’ cultural awareness, etiquette, and custom do’s and don’ts.
  • Research and / or request hotel security reassurances. They shouldn’t tell you the specific details but an idea of what measures are in place.
  • Advise on medical requirements – vaccinations and best practise or restrictions when working in hot environments.
  • Ensure travellers have a mobile that will work in country and with a suitable amount of appropriate cash and a credit card that will work in most establishments (inform credit card company of intended travel).
  • Make sure travellers are aware of active shooter guidance. UK and US guidance – run, hide, tell (fight [US]). Specific guidance relating to tourist resorts was released following the Sousse attack.

Ryan Swindale at RPS Partnership Limited

Email addressinfo@rpspartnership.com
Website: www.rpspartnership.com
Twitter@rpspartnership

RPS Partnership designs bespoke travel awareness training programmes for companies and their Executives, staff and their families who travel to foreign, hazardous, remote or hostile regions. We provide training to your staff to prepare them for domestic and international travel, crisis management to ensure that you carry out your duty of care to your staff and stakeholders, and support to your business travellers prior to their trips and during their trips if required.

This is advice based on travel to the country and was correct as at 16 Aug 2017 with the caveat that we can take no responsibility for the advice after this date.

How safe is it to visit Tunisia?

The feeling you get varies from place to place but in general things are very settled and stable. Historically our fears are centred around the “lone gunman on the beach” attack a little over two years ago.   However, if sensible attitudes are applied and we limit our exposure to potential problem areas and threats we can easily enjoy a short-term business trip or even a consider a holiday if we’re comfortable with travel to low to medium risk areas.

Efforts are being made to improve security and in particular large hotels are trying to put in place measures to lure back the western holiday makers that have largely deserted the country in recent times.

What are the biggest risks?

In light of recent events you could argue that you’re at more risk in the UK than Tunisia, although this may be due in part to the greatly reduced numbers of westerners visiting the country.  There is still a feeling that the response to the beach attack highlighted a lack of willingness by the local police to confront the gunman.  Whilst it is very easy to deploy a visible presence and have various security checks in place, the reaction to extreme terrorist attacks remains unproven.  It’s going to take some time for confidence to return. The threat remains from both Lone Wolf attacks as well as complex and multi-faceted attacks by organised teams with relatively easy access from neighbouring Libya and Algeria.

What are the overlooked risks?

In Tunisia, as in almost any hostile or at-risk environment, the most likely form of injury is going to be from being involved in a road accident.   Driving yourself will be challenging for most and the norm is to rely on taxis or organised transport.  Stick with recommendations even if it’s only from the hotel concierge and if you find a driver you’re happy with get his card and use him for your trip.

Airport – You can exchange money within the airport it is advised to shop around for the best exchange rate, but be aware of people watch you and how you carry your cash.

Use of the airport lounge – The airport lounges will accept Propriety Pass.  For more information on this please visit  https://www.prioritypass.com.

Taxis – agree a price as they will over charge you for luggage try to get a taxi with a meter that work. Most hotels will have a shuttle service so check before you fly.

Credit Cards – Ensure you credit cards works and accepted in the hotel or you will be running around looking for a working ATM.

Checking out – We would advise check out early, even the night before as the in the morning the chip and pin machines are slow due to the volume, also ensure to check your bill as service charges get added.

Tipping – Most places will add a service charge to your bill however the staff will look for a tip as they is what the work on.

Street crime and culture – because of the lone attack some street crime spiked however just like any country it has it problems, if they cant see it they wont want it ? Would advise to doing some reading of local customs and culture the Tunisians people are very proud of their culture and way of life.

Security – There is an increased in security and you will see Police check points and private security around hotel and on the access to the beaches , would always recommend you inform your local Embassy and check you travel and medical insurance policies .

How should people mitigate this risk?

  • Detailed research before you go will find you routes in and out of the country should there be a problem
  • Establish safe havens where you could take stock before deciding on a course of action. Save emergency phone numbers (to include UK Embassy) to your phone
  • Limit your exposure to avoid areas where you will feel uncomfortable and always consider time of day you’re traveling (avoid Friday prayers if appropriate)
  • Check each day on FCO and similar websites for developing situations. If you can use local trusted guides, particularly when you first arrive, they’ll have a feel for what’s normal and if the situation is turning bad
  • Dress culturally sensitively to avoid bringing unwanted attention to yourself

What duty of care provisions should employers sending staff to Tunisia have in place?

  • Travel policy and management of staff
  • Travel insurance
  • Crisis management plans
  • Clear travel guidance and security advice
  • Training in what to do in the event of a terrorist attack
  • All personal records up to date with next of kin noted with HR
  • Travel management documents which outline the travel itinerary
  • Check-in procedures – who will they check-in with and when
  • What is the emergency plan if they go missing and at what point do they invoke the crisis management plan above?

What should employees ask for?

  • Security briefing prior to leaving
  • Travel insurance that covers them for Tunisia – even if the FCO does not advise going there.
  • Life assurance in case anything happens whilst there
  • Ensure they take a small first aid kit with them

 

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