Sunday, October 23, 2011

Will Tourism Return to Libya?

100GF: Now that Muammar Gaddafi is dead, Libya has to look to the future and consider it’s new role in the world. One option apparently being pushed by figures from the country’s central bank is a focus on the tourist industry, which could bring billions into Libya if handled properly.

On the surface, Libya has many of the requisite features for a strong tourist business: for the sun-seekers, there’s more than 1,000 miles of coastline on the Med, much of it dotted with beaches; for those interested in history, Libya has numerous sites of antiquity that would be of interest. Many in Libya are said to be looking at Tunisia as a model for how things should be done.

Will there be a Libyan Grand Prix again?
Reports suggest there is interest in holding a Libyan Grand Prix race. Gaddafi explored the idea back in 2004, going so far as to send his Prime Minister Shukri Mohammed Ghanem to the Bahrain Grand Prix to get a taste for him things should be done. Those plans came to nothing, but a Grand Prix race – while requiring signiicant investment and taking a number of years to pull off – would certainly help promote the idea of a ‘new LIbya’ that’s open for business. Formula One bosses would likely be keen, too, as they seek to get the sport back into Africa.

There is precedent for a Libyan Grand Prix: in the 1930′s, there was a popular race in Tripoli, and the event was regarded as one of the fastest, most challenging and most deadly on the sport’s calendar. If you’re interested, here’s some great old footage from the Libyan Grand Prix’s heyday (below). The Second World War put paid to the race, and then once the oil boom began there was no time to capitalise before Gaddafi arrived on the scene and Libya was frozen out of the international community. After 80 years, though, a Tripoli Grand Prix might have both economic and sentimental value.

Much of this is pie-in-the-sky thinking for now. As the National Transitional Council (NTC) seeks to find a way of disposing of Gaddafi’s body without causing any incidents, the focus has to be on holding the fragile country together. Yet it would be wise to start thinking a decade ahead, and considering where Libya could go. The oil wealth is one thing, but Libya will undoubtedly seek to unlock its potential in other areas as well.


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