1. ITV Report

Thomas Cook relaunches Tunisia holidays for first time since massacre

Credit: PA

Tour operator Thomas Cook is restarting its flight and holiday programme from the UK to Tunisia for the first time since the Sousse beach attack that left 38 people dead.

The move from the travel giant comes after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) eased its travel advice.

The Government advised against all but essential travel to the North African country following the beach attack in June 2015 in which 30 Britons were killed.

Last month this guidance was withdrawn for the majority of the North African country.

Thomas Cook resumed holiday sales to UK customers on Tuesday, with trips due to begin on February 13 next year.

A third of hotels in Tunisia have closed since the attack due to a fall in tourism. Credit: AP Photo/Paul Schemm

The firm's group head of customer welfare, Carol MacKenzie, said: "We always follow UK government advice on where we can offer flights and holidays, because they are the experts in security.

"We also listen to our customers in where they want to go on holiday. Since it closed for British holidaymakers two years ago, we've had lots of customers asking us when Tunisia will be back on sale.

"Taking your loved ones anywhere is a serious decision and ultimately of course it's up to you where you choose to go on holiday.

"You should always consult FCO travel advice before making your decision. Whichever Thomas Cook holiday you choose, you can always be assured that your safety is our first priority."

The FCO said last month that it kept its assessment of the risks faced by British nationals "under constant review" since the massacre.

Having "carefully reviewed conditions" in the country - including the threat from terrorism and improvements in the Tunisian security forces - the Government decided its travel advice should change.

Terror group the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack which was carried out by lone gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.

The first Thomas Cook flights from the UK will take place from February 2018. Credit: AP Photo/Paul Schemm

Some 440,000 people from the UK visited Tunisia in 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics, however since the attack the number of tourists visiting the country has fallen dramatically.

The Tunisian National Tourist Office in the UK warned last year that the Government's refusal to relax its travel advice was allowing the perpetrators to believe they were "on the winning side".

Tarek Aouadi, then-director of the organisation said that a third of his home country's hotels had closed due to the reduction in tourism.

He said: "Tunisia shouldn't be penalised because very hurtful, criminal people wanted to damage its economy."