In its second edition in a row, the Ministry of Tourism organized the ‘Visit Lebanon’ conference, which hosted 150 Arab and international tour operators from 36 different countries.
Minister of Tourism Avidis Guidanian said that the aim of the event is to increase the number of tour operators visiting Lebanon to put the accent on the country’s tourism components.
He stressed on the need to diversify tourism in Lebanon by focusing on certain types of tourism, which can contribute to attract additional number to be a destination, not only for leisure tourism, which can work during a specific season only. “We are working on having an all-season tourism in Lebanon, and the diverse components the country has will enable the country to attract tourists throughout the year.”
He said: “When we met a year ago with the heads of trade unions, we saw that we lack to promote several things, the first of which is the development of the website and the launch of two websites for tourism, one for recreational tourism and another for MICE tourism, which become ready and we announce today.” The minister added that on May 28, the private tourism sector will be trained on how to use them, as the private sector plays a major role to motivate people to visit Lebanon.
He added: “We have also launched religious tourism, which has become one of the most important types of tourism that attract people because of the richness of Lebanon in religious sites.” He also spoke about the attempts to re-position medical tourism in Lebanon.
“We need to cooperate with embassies to open the door for tourists to facilitate their entry to Lebanon, especially from India, Tunisia, Morocco, Armenia, and Egypt,” he said, adding: that the MoT is working on finding an indirect route from Latin America and Brazil at competitive prices as an alternative. This would boost the number of visitors from Brazil.
He also revealed that “two visits will be made to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to revive the distinguished relations by lifting the Gulf travel ban on Lebanon, especially from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.”
“The visit to Kuwait will happen during the month of Ramadan and we will include a meeting at the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait to stimulate the arrival of the Kuwaitis to Lebanon during that month,” Guidanina said, referring to the efforts of President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri to reopen these channels. The visit to Saudi will happen after Ramadan.
Guidanian revealed that conference reservations for 2019 are very high so far, which makes Lebanon an important center for MICE tourism.
The president of ‘Visit Lebanon’ association, George Freiha, said: “2018 is the year of religious tourism by excellence.”
Pierrre Al Achkar, president of the Federation of Tourism Unions, called participants to “reflect the positive image of Lebanon, the country of safety and stability, unlike the negative image conveyed by the Western media.” He said: “Lebanon is small in size but has valuable and varied hospitality components.”