Destination Libya: Developing Libya as an Internationally – Competitive Tourism Destination
Khalifa, Akram Esa Omar
University of Wales
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Libya is an emerging tourism destination in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Early efforts to encourage tourism in the 1990s were re-energised after the lifting of UN sanctions in 2003 following dramatic changes in Libya’s foreign policy. Despite a healthy economy, high rates of unemployment (30%) combine with a dominant source of income - oil - which contributes 95% of GDP. Thus Libya is considering tourism for economic diversification. This thesis explores the challenges that face Libya in this endeavour and develops a best practice model (SCDM2) to help Libya achieve its ambitions as an internationally-competitive tourism destination. Data collection from key stakeholders in the Libyan tourism product (government officials, tour operators, hotel managers, tourists and local communities) involved five qualitative methods (focus group interviews, semi-structured interviews, document analysis, audio-visual materials and participant observation). Libya is a unique destination with: long untouched coastal beaches; stunning and wellpreserved Roman and Greek antiquities; amazing desert adventure opportunities; prehistoric civilisations; generous and hospitable people. Despite being very safe, Libya has an image problem in the UK: desert; hot; a culture similar to other Arab countries; controlled by Qudaffi who promotes anti western policies. The tourism industry faces enormous challenges, mostly related to the absence of a clear strategy for tourism development: destination accessibility; poor protection for tourism attractions/antiquities; weak human resource development, environmental and quality service issues. The demand side of SCDM2 focuses on destination image. The supply side addresses destination elements: destination accessibility; destination planning and management; supporting resources; local communities; comparative advantage; the significance of global environment. The thesis concludes that despite good comparative advantage there are major challenges to delivering appropriately-priced, high-quality products enabling Libya to compete with other MENA destinations and makes a number of recommendations to Libya’s decision-makers to address the key challenges.
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