High hopes for AWTTE

Beirut at night

The comeback of Lebanon’s tourism season brings a lot of hope to the country and to AWTTE (Arab World Travel & Trade Exhibition) according to its project manager, Maya Shehayeb, who is organising this year’s exhibition at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL). 
AWTEE 2008, to be held from October 16 to 19, is expecting to host more than 14 national pavilions including Algeria, Cyprus, India, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait. Two new participant countries are Kurdistan and Sudan.
“I’m hopeful that AWTTE will be a huge success,” said Shehayeb in an interview with TNN.
The last time AWTTE was held in Lebanon was in 2005 where 13 exhibitors from countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa were present. In 2007 there were plans for an AWTTE trade fair which secured 14 countries to sign up, but, the show was cancelled due to political instability.
This year’s show will offer seminars, conferences and specially invited speakers. A conference on tourism and tourism investment in collaboration with the United Nations World Trade Organisation may also be held.  The show will be open for trade the first two days and then also available to the public.
The weekend will see a special event that includes the giving out of prizes, folklore shows plus food sampling events. “During the last exhibition we had around 100 exhibitors and around 7,000 visitors and we are expecting more this year.”
Around 100 top travel and tour operators will be heading to Lebanon from the USA, France, Poland, Italy, Qatar, Greece, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, India, and China. Middle East Airlines will host and accommodate them. “They will come and meet with exhibitors, and we’re arranging a trip for them to see Lebanon for themselves. That way they’ll get a sense of the country and will be able to promote it better.”
 Shehayeb’s overall feeling this year was positive. “All the airlines are fully booked. I feel it will be a great trade show for everyone and once again Lebanon will bounce back as a destination.”