The Libya Travel and Tourism Exhibition opened in Tripoli Tuesday and will continue until 26 October. Thirty-five local and international companies specialising in the travel and tourism sector, aviation and insurance participated.
The event was opened by Acting Minister of Tourism and Traditional Industries, Nasr al-Din Milad al-Fezzani, accompanied by the Minister of Economy and Trade, Mohamed al-Hwej, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transportation for Aviation Affairs, Khaled Swesi, and the Tunisian Ambassador to Libya, al-Asaad al-Ajili.
Tourism important to economic revival
Commenting on the exhibition and its role in reviving the national economy, Minister of Economy and Trade Al-Hwej said in an exclusive interview with Libya Herald that tourism is an important source of income, and despite the great tourism potential in Libya, the contribution of the tourism sector has been almost non-existent for several reasons. These include the state of instability during the past years, in addition to the Libyan state’s focus on one source of income, which is oil.
Tourism could be an important contributor to economic diversification
Al-Hwej stressed the government’s interest in revitalizing the tourism sector and considering it an important source of income that contributes to diversifying its sources and reducing dependence on oil, which for decades has been the only source of income for foreign currency in Libya. Additionally, tourism can provide job opportunities for the local workforce in hotels, tourist resorts, tourist transportation, and the sale of traditional souvenirs. He said traditional souvenirs are manufactured and produced in several Libyan cities with high quality that expresses the cultural heritage of the Libyan people and reflects the diversity that characterizes Libya.
Tourism sector to recover with development of infrastructure
Al-Hwej expected the tourism sector in Libya to recover in the coming years and achieve significant financial returns for the private sector and the public treasury, especially with the completion of development plans related to service facilities such as the airports of Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, and the resumption of international airlines’ scheduled flights to Libya.
A message about stability
For his part, the media spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Traditional Industries, Tariq Al-Senussi Al-Houni, told the Libya Herald that organizing this forum enhances the role of the tourism sector in diversifying sources of income. He said it gives indications of the return of tourism activity inside Libya, provides an opportunity for exhibitors to present their services and offers to the public, and emphasizes the role of tourism as a tool for recovery, besides sending a message to the world about stability.
Tourist groups have started arriving
Regarding the role of the Ministry of Tourism in stimulating domestic tourism, Al-Senussi said that the Ministry of Tourism has begun organizing tourist trips by granting transit tourist visas with the resumption of granting tourist visas to several tourist groups from European Union countries. He said recently European tourist groups from Britain, Portugal and Greece have entered Libya. While a group from America went on a visit to the historical city of Ghadames, organizing visits to several historical cities and Libyan archaeological sites, along with desert trips, as part of the start of the desert tourism season beginning in October.
Ministry has drawn up a plan
Regarding the Ministry of Tourism’s goals during the coming year, Al-Senussi said that the Ministry of Tourism has drawn up a national plan for tourism. This includes the promotion of Libyan tourist, cultural and archaeological sites abroad in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities and the Historic Cities Authority and through tourist agencies specialized in tourism marketing in countries of the world. This, he added, is especially after the maintenance of several historical sites in Libya, including the Old City of Tripoli, which has become a destination for domestic tourism and will also be a major destination for foreign tourist groups.
Domestic tourism growing
Regarding domestic tourism, Al-Senussi stated that the Ministry of Tourism is following up on resorts and tourist villages owned by the private sector in Libya, which have begun to increase and spread over the past years and keep pace with development in their field. He pointed out that domestic tourism, especially that which focuses on the sea in the summer, achieved last year a good investment return amounting to one billion dollars.