A rural tourism strategy for Lebanon
Rural Tourism in Lebanon now has a strategy. Developed by Beyond Beirut in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, Hospitality Services and Lebanon Traveler and funded by USAID, under the Lebanon Industry Value Chain (LIVCD) project implemented by DAI – Cooperation and Common Action in Rural Tourism activity, and in consultation with over 150 tourism actors, the document provides key directions and practical actions to improve rural tourism and market Lebanon’s rural destinations beyond the commonly known sites.
What is rural tourism?
Within the local context, rural tourism involves “experiencing the country” through a variety of travel activities that have a positive impact on the local environment, local communities and
A rural tourism strategy for Lebanon – a great potential for the country’s tourism prospects and for rural communities. Martine Btaich, an independent consultant in social, economic and sustainable tourism development explains
local culture. It involves traveling within rural areas, beyond Lebanon’s big urban centers. Landscapes, nature, agriculture, food, and heritage are at the heart of the rural traveler’s activities. There is a lot to see in rural Lebanon and rural regions can offer added value experiences to travelers away from noisy, often unhealthy and jammed city life: a relaxed and quiet environment, laidback villages and towns, beautiful scenery, adventure and discovery, fresh, and traditional local food, healthy and organic produce, reconnection with history, and hospitality and personalized services at small family-run facilities. Rural tourism offers travelers the chance to interact with locals and experience their rural way of life and their regional specialties.
While staying in rural areas, travelers contribute to increasing income and creating jobs for local people, including those that are often marginalized and have no choice but to leave their villages, their lands and homes to find a better source of income. Travelers also contribute to raising interest of locals in their local assets and motivate them to conserve this heritage.
Rural tourism is not new in Lebanon. Many pioneers and investors have developed great initiatives over the last two decades and the strategy builds on those existing programs. These initiatives are the starting point to suggest more synergy and foster common language and common actions among actors within the sector. The plan suggests taking action progressively and systematically to strengthen and develop these rural attractions.
The strategy includes marketing and communication actions that improve the visibility of rural destinations and attract more visitors. It recommends developing competitive and better quality professional services and products that are more appealing to travelers.
The plan also includes suggestions to further engage the local communities and municipalities to institutionalize tourism at the local level and improve the infrastructure, and decision makers to regulate work and enforce policies to manage tourism activities and preserve the local heritage.
Lebanon's heritage is a legacy and everybody is
Photo courtesy of Fadi Yeniturk
Photo courtesy of Fadi Yeniturk
Photo courtesy of Martine Btaich