PHOTO: Marhaba Beach, Sousse, Tunisia. (photo via Flickr/Leonora Enking)
The families of the victims killed and injured during a 2015 terrorist attack on a popular tourist resort in Tunisia have announced that they will be suing tour operator TUI for neglect, a claim that the travel company denies.
According to BBC.com, a coroner ruled the victims were "unlawfully killed" by a gunman in Sousse during the 2015 attacks, but Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith rejected the notion that the tour firms and hotel were neglectful.
Of the 38 people killed during the attacks, 30 were from Britain, and each of the victims had booked their trips through TUI's subsidiary, Thomson. TUI has denied gross failure on behalf of its company and its subsidiaries.
The coroner and judge both found that the attacks were carried out by a man who planned to cause as much damage as possible. An investigation found that the police force in Tunisia responded poorly to the shootings.
While officials from TUI claim it is "wholly erroneous” to place the blame on the tour operator, the majority of the families whose loved ones died or were injured have hired lawyers and look to commence civil proceedings against the tour operator.
The victims' families wanted the coroner to consider if TUI or the hotel owners were neglectful in the attack, but laws regarding neglect do not cover tourists who travel to a place voluntarily for a vacation.
The question now that courts have to consider is whether or not the tourists were reassured about safety before booking and if travel agents covered up the possibility of danger in Tunisia.
Not only did the investigation find that TUI did not conduct security checks at the hotel, but the tour operator also circulated a “crib sheet” which told agents to tell customers that it was business as usual at the resorts without mentioning terrorism, despite the Foreign Office warning of a high risk for another attack.
“We have now heard the coroner's findings and his comments regarding the provision of security and visibility of travel advice,” managing director of travel operator TUI Nick Longman told BBC.com. “These are complex matters and we have already taken steps to raise awareness of the FCO's Travel Aware campaign. As an industry we have adapted and we will need to continue to do so.”