16 July 2003

Search all issues

powered by FreeFind

Send Your Feedback!

MTA sees more pros than cons from Libyan Lm2.7 billion tourism investment

The Malta Tourism Authority has identified more pros than cons from Libya’s multi-billion dollar tourism investment plan and is viewing the development in an overall positive light, with the only troubling point being the risk of dilution brought about by additional bed stock in the Mediterranean region.
At the beginning of the month The Malta Financial and Business Times revealed that Libya has drawn up an ambitious multi-billion dollar plan to attract some three million tourists a year to shake off the effects of years of international economic embargoes.
The scheme aims to develop Libya’s poor tourist infrastructure over the next five years at an estimated cost of USD7 billion (Lm2.7 billion). As part of the massive capital outlay, tourist villages and hotels will be built on Libya's pristine 1,000-kilometer Mediterranean coast.
Communicating with this newspaper, MTA Chief Executive Leslie Vella remained upbeat on the prospect: "The Maltese tourism industry has a very strong tradition of capitalising on Malta's central Mediterranean location and taking up any opportunities that present themselves within the geographical context of the Maltese Islands.
"In many respects, the entry of Libya in the Mediterranean tourism industry is very welcome in that it will add a further rich dimension to the region's tradition of geographical, historical and cultural diversity. The addition of another destination in the Mediterranean will also continue associating the process of economic and political stability in the region, a process for which tourism is recognised as a successful agent.
"Malta has managed to remain successful in the face of much larger close competitors, such as Sicily and Tunisia, and there are numerous instances where the Maltese travel trade has been successful in tapping for more business as a result of these markets' proximity. The same should apply to Libya, where a number of Maltese companies already have a strong foothold and a good working relationship with their Libyan counterparts."
However, in terms of any direct effects Libya’s projected massive investment might have on the Malta product, Vella points out that is very much dependent on the type of tourism Libya intends to attract to its post-sanction era shores.
He explains, "Libya offers the potential for both beach and cultural holidays. In the beach holiday segment, Malta has long realised that it cannot continue to compete with destinations offering much larger and more extensive beach facilities.
"Malta offers a unique value proposition in the field of a rich and varied historical tradition concentrated in a small territory, which is highly accessible. It continues to be at the forefront of the Island's endeavours to retain its position as a unique destination in the Mediterranean."
The project comes as Libyan authorities are wrangling with a decision over whether to adopt a policy of so-called ‘popular capitalism’ with a view to liberating the economy after three decades during which vital economic sectors were controlled by the government. The move also follows hot on the heels of a call in June by Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi for the wholesale privatisation of the vital oil and other sectors in light of the uncompetitivity of the heavy state-run economy.
Ghaddafi has also instituted a cabinet reshuffle aimed at giving tourism a new-found impetus, most notably was the creation- for the first time – of a Tourism Ministry headed by former prime minister Ammar Latif, whose first move was to inaugurate Libya's first tourism fair.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail