Tourism in Libya is an industry still in its infancy but one that is gradually growing. The country is best known for its ancient Greek and Roman ruins and Sahara desert landscapes. Libya is getting closer to reach its ambitious plans to diversify its oil-reliant economy and exploiting its unspoilt Mediterranean tourism potentials. A second large contract to develop large-scale holiday complexes has now been signed by Libyan authorities.Libyan authorities last year embarked on an ambitious plan to fully exploit the country's Mediterranean tourism potentials by 2018. Currently, around half a million tourists enter Libya each year, defying a complicated access to visas and a very poor tourism infrastructure. Most visitors go to Tripoli and practice cultural tourism at the many historical sites at the coast and in the desert.The focus on tourism is the result of a long-standing wish by Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi to diversify the national economy, where oil accounts for 60 percent of government revenues. The government urged Libyans to look for business opportunities in non-oil sectors of the economy as oil is an exhaustible resource. One of Libya's most underdeveloped sectors is tourism.According to Minister Eltayef, Libya also first has to invest in the broader infrastructure, including airlines and airport services, transportation, telecommunications and the banking system. This, he said, "is our goal for the next ten years." During at least that time, Libya will have sufficient oil revenues to pay its development bills.The Ministry of Tourism has renewed its efforts in order to develop the fledgling sector and diversify the economy away from oil revenues. The Libyan government wants to increase the number of visitor arrivals by 20% by 2010. It’s openly encouraging foreign investment to enter the country and play a role in developing the tourism sector. The strategy to encourage foreign investment is both timely and necessary. By harnessing the capital and expertise of foreign players, Libya will be able to develop its tourism industry much faster than if it depended solely on domestic players. Therefore, foreign companies are tentatively entering the Libyan tourism market. Several European companies have signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars to develop Western-style resorts along Libya's Mediterranean coast. Interest from foreign travel and tourism groups will increase as the country's tourism industry develops further. The industry is developing from very early stages and thus represents a huge growth opportunity for foreign investors, which will take several years.Libya is a crossroads of history, continents and ancient empires. Home to the Mediterranean’s richest store of Roman and Greek cities –Sabratha, Cyrene and, above all, Leptis Magna – each of which is overlaid by remnants of Byzantine splendour, it’s a place where history comes alive through the extraordinary monuments on its shores. Every corner of cosmopolitan Tripoli resonates with a different period of history. It’s where the Sahara meets the Mediterranean.Libya is also home to Africa’s most exceptional and accessible desert scenery. The Sahara engulfs over 90% of the country, offering up vast sand seas the size of small European countries. Visit the enchanting oasis towns of Ghadames and Ghat, where the caravans once showcased the riches of Africa. Marvel at palm-fringed lakes surrounded by sand dunes in the desert’s heart. Be bewitched by extinct volcanoes, such as Waw al-Namus, where black sand encircles multicoloured lakes. Go deeper into the desert and experience Jebel Acacus, one of the world’s finest open-air galleries of prehistoric rock art.
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