Today marks the beginning of the end of a very long and painful journey for the Families of the 38 UK & other Nationalities, who were killed following the awful events on Sousse beach on 26 June 2015.
On that day, an innocence was lost on the sands of Sousse in Tunisia. In our view, that innocence attaches itself to Travel Companies, Government and Consumers.
Following this terrible attack, it became apparent to Consumers not directly affected, that the simple purchase of a Package Holiday required something more than descriptions about a hotel or a resort’s facilities. Holidaymakers began to realise that events in Tunisia & indeed in Turkey and throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, revealed a true deficit on information provided by brochures and travel advisories and that they had to become their own risk assessor when buying a holiday or travelling to a destination.
The Tunisia Inquest, (this was also seen in the Corfu Carbon Monoxide case), has revealed confusion and self-imposed limitations of responsibility at the heart of Travel Companies operations, with the end result being that Consumers were simply directed to the UK Government’s own Travel Advisories which have themselves been subject to criticism and scrutiny.
After the Tunisia Inquest, Travel companies can no longer simply hide behind the veneer of UK Government Travel Advisories; as commercial entities, they have access to substantial intelligence as to what happens in a country or resort and they use that information to feed into those same government Travel Advisories. To suggest that Travel Companies do not have access to such intelligence and are no better informed than say a Consumer, stretches credulity to its lowest level.
We should remember that Tourism is the ultimate expression of trade and friendship between two countries but it should not be used as a crutch to help that receiving State, when the fundamentals of peace and security are threatened. To fail to understand this very important concept simply delivers failure to those who rely on Tourism and failures or much worse upon Consumers.
It is clear that Travel Companies and Government must now not just simply learn but implement fundamental changes to the information they present to Consumers and Citizens. We live in a fractured world and if you want to sell a destination through the gloss of the brochure, then you must take responsibility and set out key information about a destination to help Consumers understand the nature and potential risks in any given destination. Government must adopt the position of being friends and supporters of other nations but where information is available that implies criticism, government should, for the sake of balance, publicly offer that criticism, information or concerns in its travel advisories.
The victims and their families and the survivors of this terrible Tunisian tragedy and indeed those affected by attacks around the world will not forgive a government or a travel company, that fails to pay heed to these awful events and change the way information is provided to Consumers and Citizens; failure to deliver will be brutally judged in the court of Public opinion if such an attack is perpetrated ever again.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director of HolidayTravelWatch states:
“Whilst the terrible events of 2015 and beyond should and will remain firmly etched in our memories, we should ensure that feet are held to the fire! There is no luxury for any company or government to simply rest back on the mantra, ‘lessons need to be learned’. The time for lessons has ended; Travel Companies and Government need to respect the very people they sell to or represent. There is only one solution; a complete root and branch reform of and full disclosure within brochures and travel advisories of evident risks either actual or remote. Perhaps if we start to look at the presentation of that risk this may lead to a better dialogue on security measures?”