Tunisia has been in the news recently because of two high-profile attacks specifically targeting foreign tourists, in what is an obvious effort to cripple the country’s vital tourism industry. Thousands of European visitors have canceled their trips in the last month alone but do the Bardo Museum and Sousse resort attacks mean Tunisia is a dangerous place to visit?
When I visited Tunisia, two weeks after the Bardo Musuem attack, I expected to find a heavily militarized nation on edge, like those I encountered in eastern Ukraine and around Yemen. Instead, in the capital of Tunis and elsewhere, the atmosphere was one where security could be felt but remained in the daily periphery.
Most of the main tourist sites like the Bardo Museum, which defiantly opened 10 days after the attack there – are back in service. The handful of tourists you see number fewer than the soldiers stations around entrances to other popular stops like the Carthage National Museum.
What remains around Tunisia are countless soft targets, ones that can’t be absolutely protected. In many ways this is true of most (relatively) open societies. Another similarity is that in Tunisia, there is a cohesive national identity made up of a large, educated middle class whose stance against extremism is evident. Hours after the Bardo Museum siege for example, thousands of Tunisian were outside the surrounding gates to protest against terror.
Tunisia is facing what many developed nations have already come to cope with, freedom, to an extent, makes terror attacks more easy to pull off. The repressive regime of pre-Arab Spring Tunisia restricted many liberties – resulting in a relatively safer society at the expense of the general public.
Why Visit At All?
The only true national success story of the Arab Spring, Tunisia, is where the impressive Romans of Carthage overlook the Mediterranean and the home of Luke Skywalker has been converted into a desert hotel. Tunisia has a well developed public transportation system making it easy to get around by train, plane, or bus. You can wander around the oasis of Tozeur, about a 30 minute drive from the sets of Star Wars.
Tunisia is inexpensive due to the lack of tourist demand. Large rooms in medina hotels like the Dar Ya in Tunis or Residence Tozeur Almadina won’t cost you more than $10-15 dollars a night. While Quito might have a higher crime rate, targeted attacks are always an indicator you should consider canceling your travel plans. Although further isolated attacks are near certain, those of you with a more adventurous side shouldn’t discount traveling to Tunisia. It’s true that numbers are rarely comforting, but in Tunisia’s case like many other places, they are overwhelmingly in your safety’s favor.
Hi Anil – I was there around the same time as you, what a shame we missed each other. In my eyes it’s a haphazard and disorganised country, but I have no idea if that only happened after the first attack in Bardo, which was a few days before we arrived. It’s a very safe country compared to other places like USA and Syria, I think the media have hyped up what seems to be just two incidents to put people off going there, which is a real shame. We enjoyed Kairouan and Monastir but the rest of the places we saw seemed a bit groggy and disorganised. Safe travels. Jonny
You are very welcome to be in Tunisia. Do not be afraid ! The true tunisian people will do anything protect you .
Hey Jonny. It sounds weird that you consider Tunisia safer than USA but I’m sure you have your reasons. I’m curious to know why?
I’ve been to Tunisia also after Bardo, I was still able to see the gun shots all over the museum. We probably missed each other! My itinerary was Tunis, Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, Tozeur, Chebika, Tamerza, Midès, Ong Jemal, Mos Espa, Sfax, Ilhas Kerkennah, El Jem and Sousse. Happy travels, greetings all the way from south Morocco.
I hope you had a great of a trip as I did, sorry to have missed you!
Don’t go to Tunisia. 49 tourists were killed in 2015 alone by stupid terrorists.
Would you also recommend tourists avoid Belgium and France as well?
Are you an idiot?? There is no way in hell I’d send anyone that I care about to places that have a high probablity and history of terrorist attacks. That includes Belgium and France as well.
Aren’t they lucky *you* don’t send them anywhere. Anyway, I’m not an idiot but you’re a jerk. Make your point without insults.