By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 10 June 2013:
Tourism could be Libya’s second biggest earner after oil, a conference in Tripoli has been told. However, plans to develop it are being hindered by a lack of skills and resources, according to the Minister of Tourism, Ikram Abdulsalam Imam.
“The ministry does not have enough terms of reference in order to work on the implementation of programmes freely,” she told a press conference today at the end the two-day workshop.
Organised in conjunction with the UN’s World Tourism Organization (WTO) whose Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, attended the event, the aim was to focus on the requirements for developing tourism in Libya, both for the income it could produce and the jobs it could create.
It is estimated that there could be hundreds of thousands of jobs in tourism in Libya , making it one of the biggest employment sectors in the country and diversifying the economy away from its dependence on oil.
The workshop spotlighted on the Ministry’s plans at the moment, in particular the involvement of the private sector in the construction and development of the industry.
Imam stressed, however, that there were obstructions hindering the work of her Ministry, not least some of the government’s own investments in the sector.
Libyans should embrace tourism, said the WTO Secretary-General. In most of the world’s developed countries it was one of the most important sectors of the economy, he said.
The two sides agreed on that a long-term plan was needed aiming to reduce unemployment among the young.
Rifai also met the deputy head of Congress, Saleh Al-Makhzoum, and the chairman of the Tourism and Antiquities Committee of Congress, Salem Bu Janat, on Sunday. Discussions centred on the role of tourism in enhancing security and stability as well as in providing jobs.