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Libya tries to attract holidaymakers

Leptis Magna, LibyaAccording to a survey, Libya has significant potential to attract tourists and is likely to rise as a popular holiday spot in the short-term.  This comes as the country has promoted its potential at the World Travel Market, despite the violence that has overwhelmed the nation over the past two years.

The conflict in Libya was the most bitter of the Arab Spring uprisings at the time, putting the nation in headlines around the world during much of last year.  Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, its long-term dictator, was overthrown and killed amid the violence.  It’s estimated that some 30,000 people died in the turmoil, and the country is still in a confused state politically a year later, with obstacles preventing attempts to establish a new government.  Mustafa Abushagur, the Prime Minister-elect, stepped down last month after not being able to win parliamentary approval for a new cabinet for the second time.

On top of this, armed groups attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi in September, which put Libya on the wrong side of the news once again.  Foreign Office guidelines currently advise nationals against travelling to the country – all but essential travel to Tripoli, Misrata, Zuwara, al Khums Zlitan and Az Zawiya; and all travel to anywhere else in the country.  Holidaymakers are also advised that violent breakouts between armed groups are possible, especially at night and with heavy weapons.  Despite the warnings, British Airways has resumed flights to Tripoli.

However, a poll of 1,300 professionals in the travel industry suggests that Libya could have a promising future, with 56% believing that the country has everything it takes to become a major holiday destination.  Just 10% don’t believe the nation has a chance.  Simon Press, the director of the World Travel Market, says that Libya could turn into one of the most exciting destinations in the future of tourism.  Many others like Croatia and Vietnam have emerged from conflict to become hotspots for tourism, he added, so there’s no reason why Libya can’t to do the same with some time.

Prior to the civil war, Libya was a feasible destination for adventurous tourists.  One of its most popular attractions is Leptis Magna, a ruined Roman city that rivals many Italian ancient sites in regard to grandeur.  The UNESCO World Heritage site was an important outpost during the Roman Empire’s prime and can be seen in monuments like the Arch of Septimus Severus.

Additionally, UNESCO site Sabratha, a Phoenician-Roman port near the nation’s border with Tunisia, has also been a popular tourist spot.  Cyrene is another site of ruins, which is located about ten miles from its associated port, Apollonia.  However, Libya also has a coastline that stretches 1,100 miles and can claim more of the Mediterranean beachfront market than any other nation in Africa.

Several tour operators have offered holidays to Libya, including Responsible Travel, Intrepid, Exodus, Abercrombie and Kent and Cox & Kings.  These trips usually include a visit to Leptis Magna and sightseeing in Tripoli.  An Intrepid spokesman says they hope tours of the country will be restored when it becomes more stable and the Foreign Office eases its travel advice.



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