British tourists’ return to Tunisia shows failure of ISIS

Britain now officially deems Tunisia safe for its citizens.
Sunday 18/02/2018
Tourists shopping at the old medina in Sousse, Tunisia. (Reuters)
Welcome back. Tourists shopping at the old medina in Sousse, Tunisia. (Reuters)

That British tourists are returning to Tunisia is another sign of the failure of the Islamic State (ISIS) to pursue its destructive project in the region. On February 13, UK travel operator Thomas Cook flew more than 200 package holidaymakers from Birmingham to Enfidha, south of the Tunisian capital.

The fully booked flight from the United Kingdom was the first since 2015 when two ISIS-linked attacks targeted foreign visitors to Tunisia. In March that year, 22 people were killed at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis. Then, in June, 38 died at the hands of a lone gunman on the rampage at a beach resort in Sousse. It was obvious that Tunisia’s tourism sector, which contributes about 8% of the country’s gross domestic product, was in the terrorists’ sights. Indeed, the attacks had a deadly effect. Tourism revenues dropped by almost half.

Three years on, things are looking up again. Before the 2015 attacks, more than 440,000 Britons annually visited Tunisia. Last year, there were just 28,000 because UK tour agencies scrupulously followed the British government’s advice against all but essential travel to Tunisia.

Tourists pose for a picture in downtown Tunis. (Reuters)

Britain now officially deems Tunisia safe for its citizens. In May, German-headquartered TUI, the world’s largest tourism company, will return to Tunisia as well, with flights from four UK airports.

British visitors’ expected return to Tunisia’s resorts is about more than the boost to tourism and to the economy. It shows that the terrorists’ dastardly agenda has failed. By indiscriminately killing and maiming, ISIS expected to leverage fear. The attacks were supposed to engineer the collapse of Tunisia’s economy, triggering massive disquiet and eventually chaos and anarchy.

That this nefarious plan has not succeeded is proof of the resilience of the tourism industry in the Arab world. It also shows there is no future for a perverted ideology that seeks to drive a wedge between peaceful Muslims and the rest of the world. It is ultimately the victory of life over death and destruction.

6