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'Gunfire was everywhere': tourists' tales from Tunisia

'Gunfire was everywhere': tourists' tales from Tunisia
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The re-opening of Tunisian airports has allowed several thousand tourists who had been stuck in the country to be repatriated.

However, curfews and a lack of planes and cabin crews has been causing some delays.

At London’s Gatwick airport some holidaymakers came home with stories to tell, after experiences they are not likely to forget.

“It was terrifying,” said Tina Manahai from Brighton. “The hotel staff were fabulous, they kept us safe. But outside the hotel complex, we heard gunshots. And the coach ride this morning… there were burnt out shops, and places we had been two days ago were just destroyed. And it was just so sudden.”

In France, which traditionally sends hordes of holidaymakers to Tunisia, tour operators estimate the exodus will take several days.

Germany, like Britain, hopes to get most tourists home by the end of the weekend.

“Yesterday we wanted to go the market and there was a big demonstration there, in Midun. We’d been told by the travel rep that if we saw any riots we should get straight into a taxi and leave the area,” said Heike Schickel upon her return to Frankfurt.

Tourism is Tunisia’s main source of foreign currency and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The experiences of some tourists from Turkey suggest the vital industry risks being badly damaged if the unrest continues.

“The sound of gunfire was everywhere,” said passenger Sonia Ilyas on her arrival in Istanbul. “They attack homes at night. The country is in turmoil. That’s why we fled and came here.”

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