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Libya with 2000 kms of beautiful undeveloped coastline and some of the greatest archaeological ruins on the Mediterranean, it is not surprising that the UNWTO, Euromonitor,  Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, Hilton and Jones Lang LaSalle  are all optimistic about tourism in the country.

The National (of the United Arab Emirates) reported today that Libya “has long been off the radar for holidaymakers. Yet it has the potential to emerge as a major tourism destination after the fall of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

Already, some of the leading global hotel chains are considering moving into the country once the political and military upheaval subsides.

“We believe it will take time, but Millennium & Copthorne can see a good market for all our brands,” says Michael Marshall, the vice president of sales and marketing at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East .

Under the repressive regime of Col Qaddafi, tourism made up just 1 per cent of Libya’s economy, with the country attracting fewer than 150,000 visitors a year.

But all that could change, because the North African nation has the financial muscle, through oil revenue, to compete with nearby tourism destinations.

Neighbouring Tunisia attracts 7 million tourists a year, and the industry accounts for 7 per cent of the country’s economy, generating US$3 billion (Dh11.01bn) of revenue a year.

“We believe both Tunisia and Libya have great untapped tourism potential, and as the political environment settles down, we will certainly be looking to see what opportunities there are to enter these markets,” says Rudi Jagersbacher, Hilton Worldwide’s president in the Middle East and Africa.

But there is still a great deal of work to be done to turn Libya into a major tourism haven. The nine-month conflict has wiped out what was left of the industry as international airlines and tour operators scrapped services.” Read more.

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