Libya off limits - tourist guide

00:49, Jan 07 2014
jill worrall
Travel writer and tour leader Jill Worrall.

A Timaru-based international tour guide will avoid Libya following the death of Wellington woman Lynn Howie.

Ms Howie and her British partner, Mark De Salis, were killed while picnicking on a beach near Sabratha, 65km west of Libya's capital, Tripoli.

The bodies were found on Thursday and the motive for the killings remained unclear.

Timaru woman Jill Worrall, a tour manager for Tours Direct, has been to Libya three times - once on her own and twice with groups. However, the company has not taken groups there since 2011 because of the Arab Spring.

She said Libya was on her list of places she wanted to return to and believed that would have been a possibility over the next couple of years, but not now.

It was still too dangerous, she said but believed over time it would once again become a safe place to visit.


"I haven't been there since Gaddafi [the ruler of Libya for 42 years, was killed] because that's when it got dangerous. My colleague in Libya was saying things were getting better, but not now - things are getting worse," she said.

Groups are often allocated a "tourist policeman" who travels with them.

However, Ms Worrall said she had never felt unsafe in Libya.

"We were really in no danger."

She said Americans had more reason to be concerned. In an attempt to make locals realise her groups were New Zealand-based, she decorated the bus with flags featuring a silver fern or kiwi.

Overall, her experiences of Libya were good.

"People were incredibly friendly. You would be walking through the centre of Tripoli, cars would slow down and you would think ‘what are they going to do', but [the people] would say ‘welcome to Libya'.

"I've been there on my own and never felt in any danger. But, unfortunately when things become unstable, these other extremes start to become a problem."

The country had a lot to offer, Ms Worrall said.

Roman and Greek ruins are among its many attractions.

Libya had "great potential" as a tourist destination, but loss of life had tarnished that, she said. "It's a tragedy."

"It was a country that had potential in terms of tourism, but I would say it's going to be years before [tour groups will be] going back again."

The Timaru Herald