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Sabratha, Libya (Bryn Pinzgauer)

Libya now off-limits as political unrest continues across Middle East

21st February 2011

UK government warns against all but essential travel to Libya, as the wave of political protests across the Middle East and North Africa continues

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to Libya, after reports that more than 230 people have been killed since demonstrations began on Wednesday.

Benghazi, the country's second city, has seen the worst of the violence, but unrest spread to the capital Tripoli yesterday, as Libyans protest against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

Tours operators have begun cancelling tours to the country, amid an expected drop in bookings to the region as whole.

"On Friday, based on advice from local ground staff in Tripoli, we pre-emptively cancelled a group tour to Libya, prior to FCO advice being changed," said Katie Parsons from Cox & Kings.

"Trying to predict booking trends is difficult as people are understandably concerned about what they see on the news and are likely to be cautious about travel until the situation improves," she added.

It comes as Egypt re-opened many of its museums and historical sites, which had been closed since the civil uprising started in January, estimated to have cost the tourism industry £500m.

Elsewhere in the region, bloody protests in Bahrain have put next month’s Formula One grand prix race at serious risk, and there have been reports of unrest in Morocco, Oman, Jordan, Yemen, and Algeria.

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