Tunisia: Lifting a ‘Tourism Ban’ and Supporting a Democracy

HUFF-POST| Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015


The good news is that the Tunisian authorities are focused and cooperative in addressing their security deficits. They want our assistance in strengthening their security, and the equally good news is that the UK is willing to provide them support.

Rafik Chelli, the Security of State for Security Affairs, has made clear that Tunisian authorities are working very closely with UK, US, French and other western governments to identify necessary counter-terrorism measures, such as the protection of tourist zones. He describes the threat of terror within Tunisia as manageable, and that they have a very good understanding of the risks and preventative measures which must be taken.

For our part, David Cameron has said that the UK has boosted its cooperation with Tunisia, including assistance in strategic reform of the Interior Ministry, counter-IED capacity building and strategic communications. These are good early steps.

You can see the immediate changes to security in tourist zones, where the government has provided hotels with armed police officers. Many hotels have also taken further measures, such as sophisticated CCTV networks. The British Ambassador to Tunisia, Hamish Cowell, speaks highly of the commitment of the Tunisian officials he has worked with on these issues. There is no doubt that tourists are far better protected.

It will be up to the British government to decide whether or not these changes are sufficient, but this seems to be more of a ‘when’ than it is an ‘if’. Tunisia desperately needs the tourism ban to be lifted, and we must do more to help them improve their security sufficiently.

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