MEET the Mediterranean
The Mediter ranean’s varied landscapes and ecosystems, along with its rich cultural her itage, make it an ideal region to support eco-tourism. The Shouf Biosphere Reserve’s Mirna Riman, explains the Mediter ranean Exper ience of Eco-tour ism (MEET) projec
WHAT IS MEET?
The Mediterranean Exper ience of Ecotour ism (MEET) project aims to expand the diversity of tour ism and encourage better seasonal distr ibution across the Mediterranean region. In a network of eight countr ies of the Mediterranean (Italy, France, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Greece and Tunisia) the project hopes to help boost the countr ies’ socio-economic development. The Shouf Biosphere Reser ve is the par tner coordinating communication strategy, tools and dissemination. The MEET project has created a cluster of ecotour ism packages in 25 Mediterranean protected areas. The project beneficiar ies in Lebanon, in addition to the Shouf Biosphere Reser ve, are Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reser ve, Horsh Ehden Nature Reser ve, Tannour ine Cedar Nature Reser ve, and Tyre Coast Nature Reser ve. The aim is to improve the quality of the ecotour ism on of fer in protected areas in order to build appealing packages, which will help to conser ve natural and cultural resources and revitalize less developed communities. Local and international ecotour ism exper ts have been involved to develop these packages through training of the protected areas’ team, in order to increase their ability in welcoming and dealing with overseas tour ists. “This project of fers the reser ves in Lebanon a great chance to exchange experiences with [its] Mediterranean partners,” says Kamal Abu Assi, project coordinator in the Shouf Biosphere Reser ve. “They are benefiting from test visits carried out by international experts and representatives of ecotourism companies to improve the ser vices in our protected areas.”
THE ECOTOURISM PACKAGES
“Two ecotour ism packages were created through the project ‘Lebanon Cedars and Sea Phoenicia Package,’ that includes six days in the Shouf Cedar Nature Reser ve and Tyre Coastal Nature Reser ve,” Pascal Abdullah, the ecotour ism exper t in the project and the manager of Responsible Mobilities says. “In addition to the nature reser ves, the package includes cultural her itage sites such as the monuments of Tyre, the traditional village of Deir El Kamar and Beiteddine Palace. The second package, ‘Lebanon Myth, Forests and Adventures,’ includes Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reser ve, Horsh Ehden Nature Reser ve and Tannour ine Cedar Nature Reser ve.” The packages of fer diverse experiences around the countr y, where visitors can discover the rich heritage of lands that were once inhabited by the Phoenicians and explore the cities where they lef t their mark. They include visits to the countr y’s most stunning protected natural habitats from the oldest cedar forests in histor y to the sandy beaches of the Tyre Coast Nature Reser ve. Local tour operators carefully tailor the tours to of fer visitors an authentic experience – from hiking along countr yside trails to learning about traditional life, meeting local villagers and tasting food from dif ferent regions. With a sustainable tourism approach, the tours have a responsible attitude towards travel, encouraging an understanding of nature and respect towards the environment through protection activities and an understanding of local traditions.
On a seven-day journey, visitors can roam through North Lebanon’s mythical landscapes, uncovering a mosaic of histor y, culture and village life that is worth protecting. Meet the locals of Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, who decided to protect the valley of the Phoenician God Adonis; learn about Maronite history and how to write your name in the Syriac language with a monk in the Qadisha Valley; enjoy the majestic scenery of the northern Lebanon chain and immerse yourself with the scents of the last protected cedar forests and be enchanted by local stories in the protected forests of Tannourine and Ehden. Take the time to breathe freely and enjoy the journey.
On a seven-day journey, visitors can roam through North Lebanon’s mythical landscapes...