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The Competitiveness of SMEs in the Libyan Tourism Industry

International Journal of Applied Entrepreneurship (ISSN: 1742-5824) Volume 1 Issue 2

Mokhtar A. Jwaili and Dr. Said Al-Hasan
Welsh Enterprise Institute, University of Glamorgan Business School

Abstract

Tourism is undoubtedly a key factor of economic development, particularly from the standpoint of investment, job creation, competitiveness and quality in the Libyan economy. It also paves the way for exchanges between Libya and other nations, contributing to the creation of a climate of mutual tolerance and respect. Despite the UN sanctions from April 1992 to 1998, which prohibited air traffic to and from Libya forcing tourists to travel by land and sea, tourism is the country's highest growth sector. In fact, tourism is the only source of hard currency outside oil exports and consequently many small and medium-sized tourist enterprises (SMTEs) have been established to develop this sector.

Following the suspension of sanctions the situation is now more stable, and Libya 's future strategy is to receive at least 3 million tourists by the year 2003. Europeans account for the largest number of foreign visitors particularly from Germany , France , Italy , Spain and Switzerland . An increase in the number of tourists has been primarily due to Libya having some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the World, and also because it is considered an exotic vacation by adventurous Europeans.

The objectives of the paper are: to determine the factors involved with the competitiveness and quality of marketing of SMTEs in the Libyan economy; to assess the perceived relevance of the factors assisting SMTEs in their development; and to develop a model that illustrates the importance of the factors to enhance the competitiveness and quality of marketing of SMTEs in the Libyan tourism industry. The research question ties back directly to the above aims and asks if the factors (which are identified) are properly integrated in the operation of SMTEs will this be conducive to the efficient marketing of Libya as a tourism SME economy? The research reported involved the use of methods to assess the environment, which exists in terms of competitiveness and marketing quality in the tourism industry in Libya . The paper draws primarily on existing research, secondary data sources and a short questionnaire to key policy makers. Secondary data sources include literature in the area, which consists of both published and "grey" literature (including reports from national and international bodies, universities and consultants). In addition, data has been obtained from key policy makers in the Libyan tourism SME economy. Indeed, the role of marketing in such an economy has required careful analysis and a great deal of thought, particularly in relation to an industry that appears to be an ad hoc combination of small private enterprises and large state institutions. The paper seeks to identify how SMTEs organise and manage their competitiveness and marketing quality and what impact this has on performance. The research question has been distilled in relation to the national economic context.

The paper concludes by reporting on "best practice" regarding competitiveness and marketing quality in the Libyan tourism SME economy, since this approach is important to Libyan SMTEs, as emulation amongst these firms enables them to compare themselves with the leading firms in their field and is an effective way of propagating "good practice".

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