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Libya Decides to Grant Tourist Visas to American Citizens

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When the United States lifted the ban on travel to Libya in 2004, a number of major cruise lines added Tripoli to their schedules.  Only a year later, the Libyan Government unexpectedly denied landing to any cruise ship carrying American citizens.

Yesterday unsubstantiated reports circulated that Libya had reversed its stance and would now grant tourist visas to US citizens, including offering group visas to cruise passengers.

Today we have word from the US Embassy that the Libyan Govenment has confirmed the new policy.  Yael Lempert of the US Embassy in Tripoli confirms in an email to Seatrade Insider that “from now on, American tourists can obtain Libyan tourist visas through the same procedures used by European tourists”.

While this is welcome news for those cruisers who are particularly interested in ancient history and the superb archaeological sites found in Libya, it does not mean that cruise ships in the Mediterranean are now going to turn right at Malta.  This year’s itineraries are fixed.  Next year’s are already open for sale and will have very little flexibilty.

Beyond that is Libya’s somewhat questionable reliabilty.  The major cruise lines have expressed interest in this new development, but they also well remember the cost and difficulty encountered in having to change their itineraries abruptly 5 years ago.   Libya will have to convince the lines that they intend to grant visas in a reliable and consistent manner.

I hope the day comes soon when cruise travel to Libya becomes a reality for Americans.  I’m sure there are many like myself who eagerly anticipate the opportunity to walk among the sites at Leptis Magna and Sabratha, experiencing them for ourselves.

You may read the report here.

Technorati Tags: cruise to Libya, Leptis Magna, Libya, Libyan tourist visas, Sabratha, world heritage sites