British travel firm resumes Tunisia holidays three years after beach attack

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This file photo taken on July 03, 2015 shows tourists and Tunisians taking part in a ceremony on July 3, 2015, in memory of those killed the previous week by a jihadist gunman in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui.

LONDON – Thomas Cook flew tourists to Tunisia for the first time in three years on Tuesday, making it the first major British travel operator to resume operations there since an Islamist militant killed 30 Britons on a beach in 2015.

The attack, which was claimed by Islamic State, prompted Britain to advise against all but essential travel to the North African country, and major tour operators subsequently scrapped their holiday programmes there.

But the Foreign Office softened advice last year. TUI Group, the operator with whom the victims had travelled with, said last month it planned to offer holidays in Tunisia again starting in May.

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Thomas Cook said all three of its flights to Tunisia&39;s Enfidha airport on Tuesday were full. It will fly there three times a week, allowing Britons to join German, French and Belgian customers who have been going there for the last two years.

A total of 38 people were killed in the shooting in June 2015 in Sousse, 140 km south of Tunis.

Thomas Cook&39;s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said it had done everything it could in terms of security.

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"It would be foolish of me to say that any destination is 100 percent safe but what I can say is that we have taken time to make the decision to prepare our programme," Fankhauser told BBC radio earlier on Tuesday.

TUI also says its decision to resume holidays to Tunisia was due to returning appetite.

"We opened the destination because demand was there, that&39;s very clear," CEO Fritz Joussen said after the company announced its first-quarter results.