WTM to revitalise Lebanese tourism industry

Lebanon: all out to woo tourists back

IN an effort to revitalize Lebanon’s tourism sector after the deadlock political situation which has plagued the country, the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism is participating in this year’s WTM. 

According to the Ministry of Tourism the aim behind this year’s participation is to continue to build and keep on planning for the future.
More than 45 participants from the private sector will attend, as well as hotel owners, travel agents, managers, tour operators and organizers of AWTTE exhibition, the Al Iktisad Wal Aamal group, and Middle East Airlines (MEA).
The stand will include Lebanese wine tasting, and catering will be provided by the finest Lebanese restaurants in London.
Le Bristol Hotel, one of the exhibitors in this years WTM exhibition hopes to encourage tourists to come to Lebanon and looks forward to giving a good image of its  hotel. “We like tourists to know about us,” says Geosette Saad, public relations representative.
Others at the hotel such as director of business deve-lopment, Adib Moukheiber, are optimistic. “We believe that Lebanon will surely be recovering soon. It’s important for Bristol to be present in European and international markets,” he says.
With Lebanon’s strategic location between east and west, the European market is a great opportunity for exhibitors to make contacts, advertise Lebanon as a destination and hopefully formulate deals, explains Moukheiber.
Project Manager of AWTTE, Maya Shehayeb, will be launching the 2008 edition of AWTEE at WTM as well as promoting AWTTE 2007.
“We want to update visitors on this year’s AWTTE, which will take place in December in Beirut and launch the next edition,” she says. Shehayeb expects WTM to be a turning point for the tourism sector in the sense that it’ll promote Lebanon and will create awareness. “More visitors are expected to come to AWTTE from WTM or will be finalizing contracts,” she explains.
Nadine Kurban, the managing director of Kurban Travel, has been representing her company at WTM for the past fifteen years and will be doing so again this year.
“The situation is not so good for inbound flights so we will be there to promote Lebanon, and see suppliers. We have to be present.” She believes her company’s presence is vital because she hopes the political deadlock will clear up. “We hope to make contacts, set deals, make appointments, meet with  clients, so we have to be there.”
As some hotels see WTM as a great opportunity to promote Lebanon, other hotels are taking a step back. The Crowne Plaza Hotel will not be participating in this years WTM exhibition because it wants to cut down on costs. Sales manager Cynthia Flouty says, “WTM is very beneficial to our business in the sense that it gives us an opportunity to advertise and sign contracts, however, with the situation in Lebanon being what it is, we won’t be participating this year to cut down on costs but will hopefully do so next year.”
Being a unique pheno-menon in the region and a melting pot of cultures, Lebanon’s character has been created by its blend of people, and histories. The fusion of religion, culture, and ethnic groups is the driving force behind the Lebanese’s will to survive and move forward.

by Raghda Mugharbil