Ldorado will present its masterplan to the city authorities by the end of May and hopes to issue tenders for the various construction projects shortly after, with the first resort opening its gates to tourists by the end of 2005.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tripoli will take responsibility for modernising the surrounding infrastructure, including making improvements to local roads, airports and sewerage systems.

Ldorado is currently in negotiations for similar contracts with Benghazi municipality and several oasis towns in the south.

Libya has more than 1,500 kilometres of largely undeveloped coastline, which, along with its proximity to Europe, makes it a prime prospect for tourist development.

Tripoli signalled its intention to prioritise the tourism sector last July when it announced a $7,000 million plan to attract 3 million tourists a year. It also created a Tourism Ministry, after a cabinet reshuffle, headed by former prime minister Amaar Latif.

A number of high-profile developments have already taken place, among them the completion of the five-star Corinthian Towers hotel in Tripoli. Several European airlines have also resumed flights to the country (MEED 2:7:03; 1:5:03).