Tunisia is being tipped for a major resurgence as a tourist destination next summer in what will be four years since a beach terrorist attack which killed 30 British holidaymakers in Sousse.
Thomas Cook describes Tunisia as trending for 2019 with bookings up five-fold after the re-introduction of package holidays this summer.
The share of family bookings is up 16% year-on-year, meaning that families so far account for 66% of summer 2019 bookings – a higher proportion than to the Canary Islands or Cyprus.
Thomas Cook has increased the number of flights and hotels throughout the year to meet demand.
The operator is featuring 27 hotels across six resorts and 17 weekly flights from the UK, up from 11 this summer.
This comes despite the north African country still being under a prolonged state of emergency, last extended for a month on November 5, following a suicide attack on a police bus three years ago.
Twenty foreign tourists were also killed in a terrorist attack at the Bardo museum in the capital Tunis in March 2015.
Thomas Cook resumed sales of holidays to Tunisia in February after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office relaxed travel advice for the capital Tunis and main tourist resorts.
However, an FCO warning that terrorists are “still very likely to carry out attacks in Tunisia” remains in place, with security forces on a high state of alert.
Despite this, the operator predicts that Tunisia will continue to grow in popularity among British travellers looking for quality holidays at affordable prices, due to it being a non-euro destination.
The company says “appetite for Tunisia shows no sign of slowing down and Thomas Cook is predicting it as a hotspot for 2019.
“This time last year summer 2018 package holidays had only been available to book for a few months however bookings for next summer are currently up five-fold, indicating that sunshine at a fair price is a factor in the return of this old favourite destination.”
Ingo Burmester, Thomas Cook chief of the UK source market, said: “Despite re-introducing it under a year ago, Tunisia has established itself as a favourite among couples and families and is one to watch for next year.”
The operator is also projecting more families taking long-haul flights with early transatlantic bookings up by 27% year-on-year, with Orlando the top spot followed by New York, Cancun, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Families accounted for 46% of all long-haul package holiday bookings this summer. Cancun in Mexico is proving popular for next year with early family bookings up 22%.
Research by Thomas Cook also found that 65% of travellers say that they are more likely to travel with a company that is committed to reducing its own use of plastic items while four in five said they would choose a company with a strong record on animal welfare.
One third say that noticing litter on a beach would affect their decision whether to visit that destination again.
Attitudes towards animal welfare also became even more apparent with two in three customers describing attractions which featured performing animals as “not at all appealing”.
Burmester said: “Exploring the world has never been easier and it’s encouraging to see that longer flights are not putting families off travelling further afield and we expect next year parents will continue to open their children’s eyes to new countries and experiences.
“It’s also clear that holidaymakers consider much more than just sunny beaches and beautiful hotels when booking a holiday today.
“Their own impact on holiday destinations, and a company’s commitment to positive change, is now much higher on customers’ agendas – something Thomas Cook won’t let up on in 2019.”
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