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Talking to Mr. Fady Abboud, Minister of Tourism, Lebanon

Lebanon tourism focusing on new trends

Lebanon tourism focusing on new trends
Photo © Elisabeth Lang


By Elisabeth Lang, eTN | Apr 13, 2012

(eTN) - The Lebanon Ministry of Tourism is focusing on a new trend of tourism - sustainable tourism - in order to promote economically and socially the different regions of Lebanon all year round.

The hotel and restaurant sectors are growing to match the growth of tourism flow towards Lebanon, which benefits from 200 km of coastline and 2 mountain chains, with a peak culminating over 3,000 m in altitude. Lebanon, whose origins go back to the beginning of history, is a small country of 10.452 km2, and has the best skiing in the world, explained proudly Mr. Fady Abboud, Lebanon Tourism Minister. Over half of Lebanon’s land is composed of mountains and are covered with snow, making Lebanon’s ski grounds among the best in the region.

This winter, going skiing in Lebanon has become a very popular edition - especially to European residents in Middle East and UAE, Minister Fady Abboud said. Moreover, Après Ski is unique in Lebanon, best in the world, he added.

And more and more, Arabs and Saudis have discovered the commodity of having a country nearby for a weekend of snow without having to travel to Europe. Especially Arab families are enjoying the snow, in a country where everybody speaks Arabic, with restaurants open until very late and snow lasting until April.

In Lebanon, you can ski in the mornings in the mountains and go to the beach in the afternoon - this is very unique, he said. And Lebanon's cuisine has is it all and is considered the best of the region.

“Beirut is safe and busy,” confirmed Nazira El Atrache, General Manager of Hotel Le Bristol in Verdun, Mme Curie Street, Beirut, today. “The Le Bristol Hotel is a landmark in the heart of Beirut’s commercial district, where the European and American tourists take off towards exploring archeological wealth and benefiting from the natural proximity of the mountain and the sea the same day.

“Business in hotel Le Bristol Beirut is still doing very well in spite of the unrest in Syria. We had a very good quarter,” said Mrs. El Atreche, “with major guests coming from Europe, Turkey, and the United Nations delegations, and more to come, hopefully. Most of our corporate business is pharmaceutical related in terms of exhibitions and product launching.”

During the last years, incoming tourism from Arab countries has risen to 60 percent and is now number one. Twenty-five percent of arrivals are coming from Europe, and the rest are coming from the USA.

“Brazil is also a very important market with an ongoing economic success. We are targeting on the over 5 million Lebanese people living in Brazil,” outlined Mr. Abboud.

The best hospital in the whole South America is in Brazil - it is Lebanese. “We are also targeting on medical tourism and new strategies,” the Minister said, “Or take Carlos Slim - the richest man in the world - he travels to Lebanon to see the house of his grandfather - that is the best promotion for our country.”

In the April issue of Forbes, an article states: Carlos Slim Helu retains the title of world's richest man for the third year in a row despite a fortune that's $5 billion smaller than a year ago - primarily ¬because of a lower share price for telecom giant America Movil, which accounts for more than half his net worth. In April, the company was fined $1 billion by Mexican regulators for monopolistic practices, but is appealing the decision.

Lebanon is a small country with the majority of the Lebanese population residing abroad. Luckily, however, you will find nearly 4 millions living in Lebanon, whereas over 15 million Lebanese are living around the world.

Lebanon is a country shaped by 10,000 years of history. The legacy of the past is clear from the variety of archaeological sites in every corner of the country. From a Phoenician Sarcophagus, to Roman Temples, to Crusade Castles, and Mamlouk Mosques, everywhere you go, evidence of the country’s rich and varied past comes to light. Cities like Byblos, Baalbeck, and Tyre are treasures of human history and civilization.

The country’s archaeological past can be discovered in the National Museum, with highlights include the sarcophagus of Ahiram, King of Byblos, which is inscribed with the earliest known example of the Phoenician alphabet.

Byblos, one of the world's oldest cities, has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Tyre is thought to be one of the oldest urban areas in the world.

Phoenician cities included Byblos, Baalbek, and Tyre, and these ancient cities are inscribed on the World Heritage list.

Phoenicians were seafarers and traders. They used the North Star as a point of reference for navigation. That is all history, but it explains why Lebanese have been merchants ever since and all over the world.

However, Lebanon is always renovating itself, not only politically – but also in tourism and has won recently the Award for Most Beautiful & Best Designed Stand this year at EMITT ((East Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Exhibition) in Istanbul.

During the last months, Lebanon has become extremely popular in Turkey. Turks are now discovering Lebanon, which is only an hour-and-a-half of flight time, with no visa needed. Because of this, flights from Istanbul to Beirut have risen from 2 daily flights to 6 daily flights and are always full, said Khaled Aridi, Sales Manager, Incoming Dept of NAHHAL, TheHolidaymakers, Beirut.

In Berlin at ITB, the Lebanon stand stood out among the crowd, with its new fresh white design. And that is no coincidence! The Arabic name for Lebanon is Lubnan, which means white - the color of the Lebanese snow-covered mountains.

Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the “Paris of the Orient.”

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