What to do with travel plans to Tunisia

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I was due to go to Tunisia with my boyfriend. But now rioting and protests have broken out and everyone on holiday in Tunisia is being flown home. What happens to my holiday? What do I do now? Rachel G, Manchester

Our Answer

The best advice really depends on the type of trip you and your boyfriend have booked and when you are due to travel.

Despite Tunisia's current instability, it has been a safe and popular holiday destination for many years. The tourism industry is also vital to Tunisia so there is every chance that the new Tunisian government will work hard to stabilise tourist areas without delay. This means that if you are due to travel to Tunisia 12 months from now, you may have less to worry about than if you're flying to Tunisia in the next 10 days.

Secondly, the rights of those booking package holidays are different from the rights of independent travellers. Here's a breakdown of our advice and your rights, based on when you're due to travel.

I'm in Tunisia now

If you are still in Tunisia, we strongly advise that you contact your airline or tour operator immediately to see if it's possible to change your departure to the soonest available flight.

Please note that some airlines may not offer immediate travel back home and you could be liable for transfer or penalty fees. It is, therefore, best to check the terms of the airline you are booked with.

I'm due to travel a week from today

The key point here is that if you are due to travel in the next 7 days and the FCO still advises against travel, for your own personal safety, you should heed that warning and avoid travelling to Tunisia.

You should also contact your travel provider without delay. The best case scenario is that you will be offered a trip to an alternative destination and you and your boyfriend will still be able to enjoy some sunshine. The worst case scenario is that you will just have to sit tight and watch how the situation in Tunisia develops.

A few facts you need to know:

  • Thomas Cook, Thompson and First Choice have cancelled their flights up to and including Sunday, 23 January. British Airways is reviewing its Tunisia flights on a day by day basis. Tunisair flights will also continue as normal for the time being.
  • If you have booked through an ABTA bonded travel agent and not yet travelled, you are entitled to make alternative arrangements, rebook for a later date, or get a full refund, fro as long as the FCO's continue to advise against "all but essential travel to Tunisia" to Tunisia.
  • If you have booked your all parts of your holiday including hotels, flights and entertainment independently and/or separately from one another, you are subject to the refund policy of the provider of each part of the holiday. You will therefore need to check with your airline and hotel for their particular, separate policies.
  • Travel insurance providers do not provide cover for losses or additional costs incurred from events related to civil unrest, revolutions or similar. Therefore, if you decide to travel against the FCO advice, you will not be covered.

I'm due to travel in 6 months time

In this case, you need to stay in touch with your travel provider and keep an eye on the FCO advice, which is likely to change over time. The best recommendation is to wait and watch for further developments. Unless there is prior knowledge that the dates you are travelling on will be affected, you'll most likely be charged normal cancellation and amendment fees for cancelling or changing your booking.

If you wish to cancel your trip irrespective of your travel provider's advice to wait and watch the situation, or your travel provider can't offer a refund, try to negotiate a credit note.

Where can I go for up-to-date travel advice?

Again, we'd like to emphasise that non-essential travel to Tunisia is strongly advised against. We advise all travellers to stay on top of events and monitor the latest news about Tunisia. Feel free to:

  • Keep an eye on the FCO updates
  • Understand the protection offered by ABTA and ATOL
  • Register with the FCO Locate scheme wherever you travel
  • Always follow the advice of your tour operator or airline and contact them should you have any further questions

Last Updated: February 2011