A ru­ral tourism strat­egy for Le­banon

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENT -

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

re­spon­si­ble

Photo cour­tesy of Fadi Yen­i­turk

Photo cour­tesy of Fadi Yen­i­turk

Photo cour­tesy of Mar­tine Btaich

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