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Libya: Libya Tourism Profile


Roman market square at Leptis Magna,Libya
Large investments in travel and tourism
Travel and tourism is one of the majority dynamic industries in Libya and the government constantly strives to increase the number of arrivals. This ambition is reflected in the high number of multi-million US$ investment projects in hotel construction, air transport development and decreased entry barriers to foreign travellers.
Libya is very rich in diverse natural resources such as widespread desert and unspoilt beaches inclunding heritage and its people are hospitable. However, in 2008 travel and tourism in Libya continued to suffer from lack of capacity and complicated policies regarding entry requirements.
Growing travel accommodation attracts international brands
Although in 2008 there was only one 5-star hotel, Corinthia Bab Africa, in Libya, a large number of hotels were under construction. Travel accommodation is therefore expected to grow significantly at the same time as a lot of of these projects are finalised in 2012. The increase potential of travel accommodation in Libya has attracted a lot of international brands such as Corinthia, Radisson, InterContinental, Sheraton and Movenpick. Tourism accommodation in Libya needs the expertise of international brands in hotels.
Objectives but lack of strategy for travel and tourism
Libya possesses a lot of natural resources that could make the country an appealing travel destination and the government strives to achieve various objectives by 2020, for example an increase in arrivals and an increase in incoming tourist receipts. However, although these objectives have been declared, there is little data on how they are to be completed. There is a lack of clear strategy regarding the development of travel accommodation and channels of distribution for travel and tourism-related products. Tourism infrastructure and capacity are unlikely to fit with the concept of “mass” tourism as developed in neighbouring nations such as Egypt and Tunisia. Instead, Libyan culture, monuments and the desert fit better with selected types of travel and tourism that attract high-gain tourists who seek an authentic and incomparable experience.
Important investments in air
Since 2004, infrastructure with regard to transportation has been at the heart of governmental investment policy in Libya. Air has benefited the majority from this with investments of US$5 billion in increasing the capacity of airports, the size of fleets and in improving management services. The two national-owned companies Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways have been grouped together under the management of Libyan African Aviation Holding or LAAH. In 2008 Afriqiyah Airways added routes to new destinations, namely Dubai, Delhi, Istanbul and Beirut, and ordered three new aircraft.
Contribution of travel and tourism to economy expected to remain
Travel and tourism in Libya is expected to flourish over the estimate period particularly as the country can offer a lot of niche tourism products and an authentic travel experience. However, Libya is expected to remain an oil-dependent country and the contribution of services and travel and tourism to GDP is expected to remain completely low.

Despite rapid increases in the numbers of arrivals since 2003, Libya is just beginning to position itself as an emerging spot on the world tourism map. Starting from a very low base, the period of 2004-06 saw significant increase in tourist arrivals, which almost tripled from 42,638 to 125,480. Given the prevailing climate, with mild, rainy winters and very hot, dry summers, tourism in Libya is highly seasonal, with the peak season falling between November and March. With Mediterranean beaches, five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, spectacular desert landscapes, traditional souks and wooded mountains, tourism could become a vital next pillar of its economy. For this to happen, Libya needs to modernise and extend its tourist infrastructure, attract foreign investors and expertise, facilitate the visa process and improve its international image. Some improvements are by instantly being made, with a number of new hotel projects approaching online in the next three years. Additionally Libya is working to upgrade its infrastructure, inclunding developing a number of new airports, in addition to the $1.5bn planned expansion of the Tripoli International Airport. Still, the country needs to take concerted marketing efforts to reach its goal of 3m tourist arrivals by 2010, particularly in promoting Libya’s image as a safe regional choice for visitors.