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Thursday 8 December 2016

Bound for Tunisia? Here's what you need to know

policies

It's impossible not to look on in horror at the events in Tunisia, where at least 37 people have been killed in an attack on the beaches of a holiday resort. Those people who have a holiday planned for the same area will have further reason for concern.

The resort of Sousse and the Al-Qantawi area is popular with Irish holiday-makers. So what should they do now?

The Department of Foreign Affairs issues travel advisory notices, cautions and outright restrictions regularly. Tunis, the capital, was the site of a terrorist attack in March at the Bardo National Museum following the 'Jasmine Revolution', 24 were killed including 20 tourists.

The DFA has deemed it a place of political unrest, but its travel restrictions only apply to areas near neighbouring Libya and the southern border including Algeria, where a 'Do not Travel' notice has been issued.

A state of emergency was lifted in 2014 and Sousse has not been included (as yet) in this ban. For now, it has been issued with an 'Exercise Extreme Caution' status.

What it means, in essence, is that if you choose not to travel to a pre-booked destination, your insurance may not allow a cancellation with refund in the absence of a travel ban.

However, Sunway and Thomas Cook among others have offered refunds for those wishing to cancel, as have some airlines.

terrorism

If you are already there, many travel insurance policies do not cover terrorism as a clause. Therefore, you can't expect to travel home before your due date unless it is deemed an immediate risk. 'Cancellation' and 'curtailment' of holidays are given very narrow definitions on policies, so it is worth checking to see the extent to which it is covered. The Department strongly recommends Irish tourists register in advance with them (www.dfa.ie/travel) before embarking on their trip.

If you are concerned, contact your tour operator or travel agent and see if they can move you from the resort to another place, but you are not entitled to demand they do this. Your option, obviously, is to choose not to travel, but you may lose some, or all, of your money. In the coming days, the situation may change.

There is an Irish consul in Tunisia and those concerned can call (01) 408 2000 or the Department of Foreign Affairs (01) 418 0200 (twitter @dfatirl), but the first port of call is your holiday booking agent. Although some flights have been cancelled or delayed most are on as normal.

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