Stability attracts tourist numbers
More than a million tourists headed to Lebanon this summer, according to Mona Fares, director of promotions at the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism. She believed that the formation of the new government in May left the country more stable and created confidence among tourists of it being a safe destination.
The ministry anticipated a 20 to 30 per cent improvement in visitor numbers over last year, and to ensure this had formulated a crisis management plan. “We looked at the safest market and found that to be the Lebanese expats, and Lebanese immigrants,” said Fares.
In the Far East, the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism was opening up the Chinese market. “There is a tourism programme being worked on between China and Lebanon,” she said. “We are not open to the Chinese market yet, but we’re working on it because we know its importance.”
The ministry has been proactive in promoting Lebanon by attending many trade shows and international events . “We were at the ATM last May and in spite of the instability the country was facing there were many who still wanted to come to Lebanon.” Even after the 2006 July war, the ministry participated in trade shows. “We focus on the human factor and the human potential that will remain in Lebanon no matter what,” explained Fares.
The 15th HORECA held in June in Beirut indicated that a healthy tourism industry was bouncing back. Since its inception HORECA has been the meeting place for the hospitality and food service industries in the region. This year the event came right after the presidential election and played a vital role in reviving the hospitality industry in Lebanon. “As a result of the positive political changes, Lebanon in general and the capital Beirut is going to witness an important economic growth,” stated Nada Sardouk director general at the Ministry of Tourism.
Most exhibitors expressed the importance of this event, and industry players were confident Beirut will once again become a favorite regional destination, with HORECA being a dynamic booster. Mr. Georges Nasraoui, president of Lebanese Food Industries Syndicate said, “HORECA is truly a grand event not to be missed by foreign buyers, importers, exporters, and business people from the food and hospitality industry especially those wishing to establish business connections with leading Lebanese food entrepreneurs.”
Sardouk said, “Tourism brings important economic revenues to Lebanon, and therefore we should always work on promoting and developing this industry through different vehicles as HORECA. That’s why this event must always take place.”