(MENAFN - AFP) The US-based operator of a cruise ship whose Israeli passengers were prevented from entering Tunisia, announced on Tuesday that it would no longer call at Tunisian ports.
The Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line said Monday that a "small number" of Israeli passengers were not allowed to disembark in Tunis "because of a last-minute decision made by the Tunisian government."-"In response to this discriminatory act, Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has cancelled all remaining calls to Tunisia and will not return," it said."We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests," said CEO Kevin Sheehan."We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice," he added.A official at Tunisia's tourism ministry said the visitors were prevented from disembarking because they did not have visas. The interior ministry said simply that 14 tourists were not allowed into Tunisia because they "did not meet the legal conditions for entering our country." It did not specify their nationalities or elaborate further.The country's key tourism sector has been in crisis since the 2011 uprising that ousted former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.But the issue of relations with Israel remains a taboo subject in Tunisia, as it is in other Arab countries.Tourism Minister Amel Karboul faced questions during her nomination regarding past travel to Israel, which she had made for professional reasons.Tunisia hosted the Palestine Liberation Organisation from its 1982 expulsion from Lebanon until it returned to the Israeli-occupied territories in the 1990s during the Oslo peace process.In 1996, Tunisia and Israel opened interest sections in each other's country, but Tunis froze relations in 2000 in protest at Israel's response to the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada.