The terrorist attack at the Tunisian resort of Sousse on Friday the 26th of June, which has left 38 confirmed deaths, mostly British, has been suggested by government officials and terrorist experts as the most significant attack against Britain since 7/7. The attack like so many other recent terrorist atrocities reflects a main feature of contemporary terrorism: spontaneity. The erratic and murderous outburst of Seifeddine Rezgui whose radicalisation in extremist Islamic thought remained undetected, carried out his lone wolf attack with a maximal and spontaneous impact.
An attack like this will have unprecedented consequences for Tunisia’s tourism industry which made up 14.4 per cent of its GDP in 2014. Holiday makers will be paralysed and in a state of limbo, trying to find the moral balance between pulling their business out of Tunisia or defying these extremists with a ‘business as usual’ approach. Tourists will naturally have their hesitations over the safety of the resorts and will justifiably demand more security as an absolute minimum, if they are to continue their excursions to Tunisia. It is this sort of gridlock which will be the burden for Tunisian tourism for some months to come as officials struggle to preserve such a vital economic sector.
The collapse of the tourism industry will be a realistic concern for Tunisia and resolving this problem will be contentious to say the least, however, to cross Tunisia off from the list of frequent British holiday destinations signifies the capitulation of the West to the will of the terrorists.
The aim of Islamic fundamentalists is the imposition of fear. The most recent attack in Tunisia was not only an affront to the Western world, but it was an attempt to petrify British tourists into submission and to force them to abandon North Africa as a tourist destination. If there is a withdrawal and eventual collapse of tourism in Tunisia, the likes of the ISIL and Al Qaeda will only target more frequently and with the confidence that the tactics used in Sousse achieve the most rewards for their cause.
But what about the propaganda relating to this attack? The Islamic State specifically have capitalised on social media platforms to propagate their successes against the Iraqi and Syrian armies, as well as the Western Coalition. Eradicating the tourism industry in Tunisia would only fuel the propaganda efforts exploiting the achievements of the Islamic vision, which prophesies the eventual annihilation of the ‘infidel’ race. Countless numbers of British Muslims have been radicalised through these platforms, with Twitter being the most prominent, therefore any abandonment of tourism in this region will only drive the appeal of Islamic extremism.
In recent years, North Africa has been ridden with political uncertainty. The Arab Spring has had direct repercussions in the region, leaving vast political vacuums which Islamists have long sought to exploit – Rezgui himself had allegedly fought in Libya against the Gadaffi regime.
If tourism is abandoned in this country, a major economic sector will be undermined and an existing vacuum will only widen for the extremist groups to infiltrate. ISIL and Al Qaeda alike want to disconnect North Africa from the West and the withdrawal of tourism will only quicken the process of dislocation and isolation. They seek an Islamic caliphate across these territories and tourism is part of a wider context of issues that have hampered attempts to create a land governed by Shari’ah.
The massacre in Tunisia is an opportunity for Britain to make a stand against Islamic extremism and terrorism as a whole. Britain never abandoned the tube back in July 2005, and now is not the time to abandon a country and industry that welcomes us as a nation. By continuing to holiday in Tunisia, tourists are defying the attempts to undermine the principles of freedom and liberty which are integral to the British nation. Britain must do all it can to support the Tunisian authorities in bolstering their security forces so that tourism can continue to thrive there in commemoration of those who lost their lives. Britain has never bowed down or been intimidated by terrorists and 2015 should not be the year this attitude changes.
What happened on the 26th of June was a tragedy to say the least. The reaction of the hotel staff who directed the tourists to safety and who also documented the gunman’s attack, was a phenomenal act of bravery that can only demand the highest level of admiration. It certainly proves just how alien the fanatical beliefs of these terrorists are to Tunisian people and that in fact, tourism is something of a national pride as opposed to an infringement on Islamic purity.