The first package holidays to Tunisia for British holidaymakers since the Sousse massacre have resumed today.
Thomas Cook will be flying from Birmingham to Enfidha as the tour operator restarts its flight and holiday programme in the North African country following the easing of travel advice by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the shoring up of security there by MI6 officers.
The FCO advised against all but essential visits following the June 2015 beach attack in which 30 Britons were killed.
Thomas Cook has resumed package holidays to Tunisia after three years following the Sousse massacre
But this guidance was withdrawn for the majority of the North African country last year.
This prompted Thomas Cook to resume holiday sales to UK customers in August and trips to Tunisia began again today.
The programme will start with three weekly flights to Enfidha, from Manchester, London Gatwick and Birmingham, expanding to include Glasgow from April and Newcastle and London Stansted from May.
The company did not stop selling package holidays to French, German and Belgian tourists after the Sousse attack.
This is because their governments did not recommend that their citizens should not visit Tunisia.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that 440,000 people from the UK visited in Tunisia during 2014.
Gunman Seifeddine Rezgui massacred a total of 38 tourists who had been relaxing on the beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse
The following year demand for holidays to the country was even higher until the attack, which saw gunman Seifeddine Rezgui massacre a total of 38 tourists who had been relaxing on the beach.
After the mass shooting, terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
And now with UK tourists set to return to Tunisia, it has been reported that British security experts, including officers from MI6, have been helping the country to increase safety.
This includes helping to overhaul the security at airports including Tunis and Enfidha, according to the BBC.
It has also been reported that the Ministry of Defence has assisted in helping train the Tunisian National Guard in port security.
British tourists lay floral tributes on the beach after the attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting
Tourists pay their respects to those killed in the attack in 2015. It has been reported British security services, including MI6 officers, have been training airport staff and those working in resorts to help them spot suspicious behaviour
Meanwhile Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism detectives are said to have been working with resort staff to help them spot any suspicious activity.
However, despite security being stepped up for British tourists visiting Tunisian resorts, people were taking to Twitter to say they still wouldn’t feel safe returning to the country.
In reply to a tweet by BBC Breakfast showing an interview with a Thomas Cook official, Colin McCulloch wrote: ‘Great. Tunisian police on the beaches. I think I’ll pass on that.’
Inveryes wrote: ‘Why wouldn’t you want to lie on a beach whilst heavily armed police on quad bikes cruise up and down. Sounds positively idyllic.’
While Tracy Pembroke added: ‘I was there on that day and there is no way I would ever go back, what good were the police then?’
However, Keith Moir wrote: ‘I would have gone back in 2016 had I been allowed to the pity is they are not doing holidays in Sousse.’
But Chris Mottershead, managing director at Thomas Cook UK said: ‘Tunisia has been a popular tourist destination for decades and with our first three flights sold out, there is an appetite from our customers.
‘Its soft, long beaches, year-round sun, historic ruins and tasty local food mean it attracts lots of loyal visitors, as well as those visiting for the first time. Tunisia is once again proving to be a popular choice for a value for money holiday.’
TUI will also restart holidays to Tunisia in May and say its decision to resume packages to the country was due to a returning appetite.