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

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENT - Book a pack­age: 05 350150/250, info@shoufcedar.com, shoufcedar.com, mede­co­tourism.com meet­net­work.org

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.

EX­PE­RI­ENCES

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...

Pho­tos: Shouf Bio­sphere Reser ve

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