U-turn after industry outrage at decision to ban travel to Libya to rebuild the country

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has changed its advice about travelling to Libya, two weeks after Building revealed that this was hampering efforts by UK firms to win work and help rebuild the country.

The FCO had advised against all travel to the country but last week changed this to advise against “all but essential travel” to towns and cities including Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi.

Speaking to Building at the Liberal Democrat conference, business secretary Vince Cable also pledged to look into the UK’s official travel advice following complaints that it could act as a barrier to overseas trade.

Earlier this month, Graham Hand, chief executive of British Expertise - an organisation representing construction and architecture firms seeking international work - claimed in Building that the FCO’s unequivocal advice not to travel to Libya was a product of the “nanny state” designed to protect “the most gormless tourist”.

This week he said: “This is what I have been asking for and will be a signal to those wanting to promote trade to go ahead.”

Speaking on Monday at a conference fringe event on overseas trade organised by the Financial Times and the City of London, Cable said he was unaware of Hand’s complaints but said he would “undertake to find out” more.

A spokesperson for the FCO said: “We are always reviewing out travel advice and we change it as appropriate.”