A DELEGATION led by the Minister of Tourism of Lebanon, Fady Abboud was present at ATM in the country’s continuous efforts to build its tourism image and highlight new offerings.
Lebanon witnessed an increase in tourist arrivals by 39 per cent in 2009 in comparison to 2008.
“We received 1.85 million tourists with tourist spending of $7.2 billion,” said Abboud.
“A large majority of these tourists were from the Middle East markets who chose to travel within the region and Lebanon with its large variety of attractions, from archaeological site visits and sandy beaches to malls and mountain ski resorts, has something for everyone.
“Investments worth $5 billion are under way, which is an increase of 60 per cent in comparison to last year.”
Looking ahead, Abboud is optimistic and expects a 25 per cent increase on last year’s arrivals.
“Judging by arrivals in the first quarter for 2010, where we have already witnessed a 25 per cent growth and by the interest levels we have seen, we are confident of achieving this target,” he said.
The ministry is currently preparing a campaign for 2010 which will target new European countries including Russia, Austria and Spain.
Abboud stressed that the diversification of Lebanon’s tourism industry will be a focus in 2010 with more promotional plans for niche tourism including Mice and medical, sustainable, rural, religious and family tourism, especially from the region.
“To keep up with the influx of tourist about 1,000 hotel rooms will open by the end of 2010 and by the end of 2015 we shall have 4,000 new rooms in the greater Beirut area,§” added Abboud.
The country has also launched a new NGO called Beyond Beirut to attract tourists outside the city.
“Our vast mountain trails are very popular and with bed and breakfast options, tourists can now enjoy the village life of the Lebanese. Lebanon is not a mass tourism destination but we want to concentrate on middle-class travellers and improve our package offering, which currently is less than three per cent of the total tourism offering. This will help see more tourists visiting outside Beirut,” Abboud concluded.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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