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Sun 9 Aug 2015 03:49 PM

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Brave Tunisian hotel workers to lose jobs

100 workers could lose their jobs due to the ban on flights from the UK to Tunisia

Brave Tunisian hotel workers to lose jobs
Mohamed Amine, Fredg Lasoag and Jihed Hassan - photo credit: Andy Stenning

Up to 100 workers could lose their jobs due to the ban on flights from the UK to Tunisia.

Tunisia gets 60 percent of its tourism from the British Isles, which now has a flight ban to the tiny Maghreb country, long known for its secular government in the region and a successful, yet peaceful uprising during the Arab Spring.

Yet despite the country’s attractive prospects for tourists and investors alike, the Tunisian hoteliers who helped save an estimated 70 lives during a fierce terror attack are set to lose their jobs as the tourism economy in Tunisia dissolves.

The coastal town of Sousse in Port El Kantaoui suffered an attack on June 26, 2015 as Seifeddine Rezgui, a gunman with links to ISIL opened fire on the Imperial Marhaba Hotel, killing 38 tourists, then headed down the beach and attempted to enter more hotels.

Workers from the Palm Marina Hotel and the Bellevue Park Hotel formed a human chain to block the gunmen from harming more guests.

Witnesses reported hearing the workers say to Rezgui, “You’ll have to get past us and we’re Muslim – you’ll have to kill us first.”

Now, because of the sharp decline in tourism, many of the hotels are being forced to close, with no guests and little revenue.

One of the hotel staff who was part of the human shield, Jihed Hassan, told reporters that he thinks 100 staff members from the Bellevue Park Hotel will lose their jobs, with the hotel set to close on August 20.

Hassan said, “There are mainly Germans, Belgians and Polish now in the resort. The British can’t get here because there are no flights.”

Despite a generally safe political situation in Tunisia before the attack, the British Foreign Office remains firm in its position, saying that terrorist attacks in the area are highly likely.

A spokeswoman for Bellevue Park’s owner, Riu Hotels, described the situation as “very complicated”.

It has been confirmed that the Sousse Beach attacks are linked to the Bardo Museum attacks, which took place on March 23, 2015 and killed 23 people.

The attack was claimed by ISIL, though the Tunisian government blames a local splinter group of Al Qaeda, Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, for the attack, and has killed nine of its members in a raid shortly after the museum attack.

Though it’s clear that the two attacks are linked, it’s unclear how or whether the beach attacks were for revenge or solely terror purposes.

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