'I would never go back to Tunisia': Shropshire father speaks out as package holidays resume
A Shropshire father who was caught up in a terror attack in Tunisia has insisted he would not return to the country as Thomas Cook resumed flights.
British holidaymakers were flown out to Tunisia yesterday for the first time since 38 people were slaughtered by an IS-inspired gunman in 2015.
A separate attack in the country’s capital Tunis saw solicitor Sally Adey, of Caynton, near Shifnal, shot dead in the Bardo museum in March 2015.
But Daniel Edwards, 31, from Pant, near Oswestry, said he is not convinced the country is safe enough and he would not wish to risk his family’s safety.
The electrician and his wife Vicky, 27, along with their five-year-old son Reuben, were staying just five minutes away from where Kalashnikov-wielding student Seifeddine Rezgui targeted western tourists on the beach in Sousse.
He said: “I would never go back personally as I would be worried about the safety of my family.
“We still have bad memories about the holiday and what happened just feet away from us to those poor people who were murdered.
“I do hope that it is safe for people though and that people return because tourism is the main source of income over there.”
Suzy Evans, from Wednesbury, who lost her son Joel, brother Adrian Evans and father Patrick Evans in the attack, said she was ‘surprised’ the airline had re-started flights to the north African nation when the terror threat was still considered to be high and urged tourists to get as much information as possible before heading there. Three planes, each carrying 220 passengers, are flying to Enfidha this week after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office eased its travel advice.
The FCO had advised against all but essential visits following the beach and hotel attack in Sousse.
Terrified holidaymakers fled for their lives as Seifeddine Rezgui fired indiscriminately on the beach and followed into the hotel.
Thirty Britons were killed, including talented football referee Joel, 19, his grandfather Patrick, 78, and uncle Adrian, 44, a Sandwell Council worker from Bilston. The hotel where the three family members were killed re-opened with a new name last year.
Despite assurances hotel security has been tightened, Miss Evans said she feels uncomfortable with the idea of tourists heading back to the beaches.
She said: “I just hope people are going to read all the facts about the country.
“At the end of the day, people make their own decisions on whether they feel safe going on holiday but they just need to be aware of the full facts.
“At the moment, Tunisia is still in a state of emergency and the Foreign Office also says terrorists are very likely to carry out a terrorist attack. More importantly, the Tunisian trial still hasn’t taken place.
“I hope staff have been told what to do in an emergency.”
'I’m shocked people are going'
Asked if she believed the Tunisian hotels were safe from the threat of terror, Miss Evans said: “I am yet to be convinced.
“If people feel safe going into hotels with security scanners and on the beach with armed guards next to them – is that what you want when you go on holiday?
“Personally, I don’t think Tunisia is ready but customers have to make their own decisions and weigh it up.”
Miss Evans added: “I am surprised they are offering flights to a destination where 38 people were slaughtered on the beach.
“It was paradise when they were there but it went to hell in the end. I’m shocked people are going.”
Thomas Cook has continued to fly German, French and Belgian holidaymakers to Tunisia, because their governments did not warn citizens to stay away.
The airline’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said yesterday he would be ‘foolish to say that any destination is 100 per cent safe’ but added: “We are confident we have done everything we can do as a tour operator to make the holiday experience as nice as possible for our customers.
“It’s a modest programme and we offer 10 hotels which are really up to our standards.
“People who were boarding our first flight said they were excited to go back.”
A Thomas Cook spokesman said they had not needed to discount prices to attract people to visit Tunisia.
“We’ve always had good demand for these holidays and Tunisia has always been a good value destination,” he said.
He added that the company had so far taken 15,000 UK bookings up to the end of the summer. An Easter holiday for a family of four to a Thomas Cook own brand hotel in Tunisia would cost about £2,000, roughly £250 per person cheaper than a similar holiday in Gran Canaria in Spain.