Information about Tunisia

Security and Safety in Tunisia

Security situation - Tourist Zones - Crime - Safety

General security situation

In January of 2011, an uprising took place in Tunisia and it removed the former rulers of the country from their posts.

In December of 2014, a parliament and president have been elected by democratic means.

Besides a few regions in the west and south of the country, the security situation in Tunisia had been stable and generally secure for tourists.

Local protests and strikes, sometimes with notice, sometimes unpredictable and sudden, may happen all over the country and at all times.

On the 18th of March 2015 there had been an attack on tourists visiting the Bardo museum in the tunisian capitol Tunis. The attackers fired with guns, more than 20 people died and more than 50 were injured.
On the 26th of June, an attack on the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port El Kantaoui (ca. 15km north of Sousse) took place. Almost 40 people, mostly british tourists, have died and about 40 have been injured.

The attackers belonged most probably to a small, local group ("cell") of religiously/politically motivated young men.
There is, in Tunisia or anywhere else, almost no chance to prevent this type of attack from happening, because small group actions are almost impossible to predict.

In this regard, the general, overall, security situation in Tunisia has, in our opinion, not changed because of or since this attack and keeps being "stable".
Since July 2015, the "State Of Emergency" has been declared in Tunisia and is being continued time after time.

Security in tourist zones

In the tourist areas, especially in the cities of Sousse and Hammam-Sousse, Hammamet and Nabeul, Monastir and Monastir-Skanes, Mahdia, Port El Kantaoui, Zarzis and on the entire island of Djerba, there is (at least during the main season from July to September), an high police presence, so that tourists, who go there, can generally feel safe from physical attacks.
However, there is a high occurance of many instances of petty crime, which specifically relates to theft and trick robbery in the streets. Particular caution is required at all times!

Security in the countryside

In the interior of the country, away from the tourist zones, stays and travels are generally not dangerous - apart from the regions mentioned below. Sometimes, rarely, mostly at night, rioters and/or armed groups and thieves may show up. These groups focus their actions not against tourists - but in some cases, they won't shy away if they came across them.
Most tour operators ask their clients accordingly, not to leave the hotel facilities or the immediately adjacent zones.

Almost all of the usual sightseeing tours to various parts of Tunisia take place without problems, since they do not touch dangerous areas.

There are armed groups in the regions along the southern and western border of Tunisia. They are classified by the government of Tunisia as "terrorists", but are, really, mostly organized smuggler/trafficker groups, as well as some religiously and politically motivated, anti-government, groups with extreme views. In these regions, open war-like fighting against the military that has been deployed there may occur - with guns and grenades and landmines being dropped.
Especially in the south, armed fighting groups from the adjacent country of Libya may enter Tunisia and smugglers move wares and weapons from and to Libya and/or Algeria. The military is deployed in these regions and some areas are closed off. Entering these regions is highly dangerous and likely deadly for anyone!

Accordingly, the author of this article advises against excursions into the interior, western and southern regions of Tunisia, especially when one is alone and on its own, does not know the country and/or does not speak arabic. Under all circumstances, actual information about the security situation has to be collected by a traveller prior to the journey!

Crime in Tunisia

Ordinary crime, like thefts and robberies, also associated with injury or (rarely) death also happen  in Tunisia - even if this is, with regard to the tourism industry, rarely discussed in the press.
There have been cases of drive-by-theft reported in which a motorcycle drives by and the persons on it grab bags from tourists, even items from inside of cars when they stop in the traffic - and then speed away.

Abandon carrying bags and backpacks, but use instead belly bags, waist bags and inside pockets of jackets to carry valueables and money! Never show off or carry  expensive jewelry, phones, cameras, etc., or large sums of money with you. Do not have valueable items on display in cars, possibly shut all doors and windows when driving.

One should refrain specifically from nightly walks on the deserted beach and hikes to remote and secluded mountain areas.

A particular problem is alcohol abuse of tunisian men. While this has a far lesser extent than in European countries, the alcohole tolerance level is also much lower and the social acceptance of being drunk is, among locals, very low to non-existent.
Particularly rape, common assault and robbery are, in Tunisia, committed often under the influence of alcohol (often just because one misinterprets the intention of the other).

As a well-intentioned advice, one should generally stay away from people and groups who consume alcohol beyond just small amounts (eg. 1-2 glasses). Avoid "binge drinking" in pubs that are visited mostly by locals or in private local circles!

The same applies to drugs. Drugs use is rare in Tunisia (smoking cannabis is quite frequent, though!) and is strictly punished, about 1/3 of the prison inmates in Tunisia have been sentenced because of drugs (alone or in combination with other offenses).
Please note! According to tunisian law, is is forbidden to knowingly be in a place where drugs are being consumed!

Scam / fraud to tourists in Tunisia, are not uncommon at all. It is primarily commited by asking tourists for money under false pretenses  (family members are ill, bills that are due, authorities that have to be paid, etc.). In general, almost all of these pretenses are false - and just ordinary scamming schemes (confidence tricks).

Cases of attempted or executed marriage fraud / love deception, called "Bezness in Tunisia", mostly to western women, but also to homosexual western men, are well known from Tunisia and not rare.

A "healthy distrust" and distance towards all flirting attempts and vows of love, and in general, all help requests and proposed "low-cost opportunities" is highly and always recommended for Tunisia!

Special crimes directed against tourist children (kidnappings, etc.) do not happen in Tunisia - on the contrary, children are cared for by almost all tunisian adults.
The widely encountered hugging and kissing, even of unknown children, by tunisians (women and men) is indeed quite normal and a natural part of the national culture.

Safety recommendations:

Please make sure you read the current Travel Warnings about Tunisia that are issued by your government and check the actual information about the situation in your destination. In the WWW, there are several forums about Tunisia and several tunisian newspapers that can be read eg. by using automatic translation programs. Some places to start are here:

Tunisia Forum (english, with actual news for tourists and residents)
Tunesien Forum (german, with actual news for tourists and residents)

If you are unsure and have not visited Tunisia often, pay close attention to the safety instructions of the tour guide. If possible, stay on the premises or in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, that is, where also other tourists are dwelling.
If you decide to leave the hotel premises unaccompanied, then follow the instructions that you can find here on this page - especially regarding theft, fraud, misuse of alcohol and confidence fraud.

In the border zone to Algeria (west and south of Tunisia), there is a significant, definite, risk of kidnapping (for ransom).
Especially drives and walks in the inhospitable mountain and desert regions in the border areas of South and West should be avoided in general, even by groups!

We have compiled a security map that shows, according to our own information and opinion, the state of security in Tunisia:

Security Map of Tunisia

See also these official travel advisories:

Travel advice Tunisia
(Australia Dep. foreign affairs)

Travel Advice Tunisia
(USA Department of State)
Travel advice Tunisia
(UK Foreign office)

Travel advice Tunisia
(Canada Government)

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