On 26th June 2015, a terrorist, disguised as a tourist, opened fire on beachgoers visiting Port El Kantaoui, a resort just north of Sousse, Tunisia. The shooter made his way from the beach to the Spanish-owned five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel where he was eventually killed by security forces during an exchange of fire. Thirty-eight people were killed during the attack, with another 39 people injured. The United Kingdom suffered the heaviest losses with 30 of the 38 fatalities being British.
Unlike an aircraft incident, there was no passenger manifest to rely on for victim identification. Guests from more than one hotel complex, as well as locals and day-trippers, had full access to the beach. There were, potentially, thousands of people holidaying, or living, in Tunisia at the time who would have worried friends and relatives seeking information as soon as word of the attack hit the news.
The influx of people flocking to the incident location, seeking news and updates, impacted family members that actually needed support. It also affected the recovery process of the personal effects left at the beach and in the hotels.
Kenyon’s involvement in this incident was multi-faceted. Kenyon’s Client, a very large charter airline, activated the services of the Kenyon International Call Centre within 30 minutes of the initial alert. A toll-free number was distributed and 75 inbound call agents were immediately available to answer calls from people concerned for their loved ones. They managed close to 2,300 calls in the span of the first week.
A Personal Effects (PE) specialist team was deployed to assist with the 1,400 or so items of associated and unassociated PE collected from the beach and hotel rooms. The PE process continued for three months (through the end of September), by which time each item had been carefully processed and inventoried.
A team of Family Assistance specialists were deployed to establish the Family Assistance Centre in Sousse to assist travelling family members. A Centre was also set up at Kenyon’s HQ in Bracknell (UK) at the request of the Client; here, staff members contacted just under 500 of the Client’s customers who had been holidaying in the area at the time of the incident. The customers were given the opportunity to access services, such as Mental Health Support, if needed.