Italian cruise ship the Splendida left Tunis harbour on course for Barcelona without nine of its passengers, as they had been killed in Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum.
The Costa Fascinosa docked in Palma de Majorca, Spain, also in mourning, after five of its passengers were killed in Tunis.
The two ships’ owners, both Italian, MSC and Costa lines, suspended Tunis from their itineraries, citing concern over their customers’ safety.
Tunisia’s tourism sector risks a staggering recoil if foreign visitors turn away.
At Tunis-Carthage International Airport on Thursday, at least some tourists were keeping calm.
A French traveller said: “It has struck everyone. We know that we have to be careful in every country in the world. It’s not just a problem for Tunisia.”
A British visitor said: “This could happen anywhere in the world. It’s the world we live in now, you know. It can come up anywhere. It’s a shame for Tunisia to suffer. But it wouldn’t deter me.”
Tunisia kept its stand open at the Tourism World Fair inaugurated in Paris on Thursday, but few people stopped by.
One woman considering it said: “I’m trying not to be affected by what happened. Obviously, if we went, we’d avoid museums. I’m not sure, I’m looking.”
French travel agencies say they have not had a wave of cancellations for Tunisia bookings, but that the whole region is affected.
Travel agent Annie Villard said: “There is a reluctance which surrounds North Africa, Egypt, those destinations.”
In 2010, before the Jasmin Revolution, out of seven million tourists in a year 1.4 million of them were French.
Consultant Didier Arino said many of those customers are noticeably absent: “French tourist numbers are down by 45 percent since the Arab Spring revolutions. In Tunisia one job — one livelihood — out of seven is in tourism.”
Tunisia has attractive prices, climate, beaches and historical sites but not enough tourists.
An Internet solidarity campaign is under way to try to help.