Sun-soaked, palm tree-lined Libya still has a long way to go
Could the Mediterranean’s tourism hotspots be about to get some strong competition from newly liberated Libya? Positioned where the Sahara meets the Mediterranean, the sun-soaked country benefits five United Nations world cultural heritage sites including Greek and Roman ruins, a historic quarter in Tripoli with colonial buildings and more than 2200 kilometres of palm-tree coastline. It’s perfect for active sports like windsurfing and trekking. War zones have been resurrected to become tourism hotspots, such as Beirut.
In Tripoli, the once besieged Rixos Al Nasr hotel is now full of guests. Small specialist operators such as Political Tours and Simoon Travel are making their first tours in Libya. British Airways and bmi will soon return to Tripoli. “We are optimistic because reports suggest most of the monuments and ancient sites have been left undamaged by the NATO bombing,” Simoon’s managing director Amelia Stewart told MSNBC.
But there are still significant problems. The Marriott and Four Points by Sheraton hotels remain closed. Most importantly, there is a serious power vacuum throughout the country, with control maintained by local fiefdoms.
[pictured: Colonial-era El Manar Palace, Benghazi, 1930]