A rural passion
Michel Pharaon, the current Lebanese Minister of Tourism, is one of the first government officials to suppor t rural tourism. During his time in office he’s visited many regions, promoting the diverse riches of Lebanon. LT met with Minister Pharaon to unc
WHY IS RURAL TOURISM IMPORTANT FOR YOU AND THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM (MOT)?
Rural tour ism has an immense potential still untapped. It can revitalize whole regions, stimulate economic development, and most impor tantly, restore Lebanon’s image as a countr y of great cultural and histor ical wealth.
WHAT UPCOMING PROJECTS IS THE MOT WORKING ON?
We would like to suppor t the elaboration of a network of guesthouses throughout the countr y. It is also our plan to launch a global day for Lebanese cuisine, with a website that would feature a fine selection of traditional Lebanese recipes.
WHAT ARE LEBANON’S TOURISTIC APPEALS?
Lebanon seems to be tailored for tourism. It is in our blood, since we have a great sense of hospitality. We speak multiple languages; enjoy brilliant summer nightlife, diverse winter sports and refined culinar y traditions. What is more, there are many regions that are still unexplored and unknown to the Lebanese people and the diaspora.
YOU VISITED THE AKKAR REGION RECENTLY; CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT ITS HIDDEN GEMS?
Akkar is one of the most beautiful regions of Lebanon. Switzerland has nothing for us to envy. Akkar encompasses valleys, forests and mountains as far as the eye can see, and its inhabitants respect the environment. I was struck by the youth’s enthusiasm dur ing my hike with the Lebanese Mountain Trail. Last but not least, ‘La vallée de la croix’ is of indisputable beauty.
YOU LAUNCHED THE CAMPAIGN ‘LIVE LOVE LEBANON’ LAST YEAR; WHAT IS THE CAMPAIGN’S PROGRESS?
When I joined the Ministry of Tourism, there was a rampant sense of depression. I wanted to infuse new enthusiasm for the country, and rejuvenate the touristic sector. We launched ‘Live Love Lebanon’ which was more than just a theme; it soon became a social movement. Lebanon represents a critical pillar for the defence of many cultural values in the region, and ‘Live Love Lebanon’ fuelled an appreciation for this role, and the societal imperative to uphold it.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LEBANESE DISH?
As you can imagine I am passionate about Lebanese food. It would be easier to ask me what I do not like. Unfor tunately, I am allergic to garlic and onions.
Minister Michel Pharaon enjoying a bicycle ride