Destination Lebanon

It cannot be denied that Lebanon’s charismatic tourism industry has encountered numerous obstacles over recent years. Tatiana Tsierkezou explores how this resilient country is leaping over the hurdles to pursue its goals.

The Lebanese tourism sector has faced, jumped and cleared hurdles time and time again. It powers on, determined to maintain its positive attitude and successfully bring to fruition its tourism goals.

With the country’s tourism leaders working in unison towards one integral vision, one entity in particular has been focusing on raising awareness on a local, regional and international scale. Last year, the Lebanon Ministry of Tourism successfully kicked off its vibrant ‘Live Love Lebanon’ campaign, which went viral on social media and online platforms.

IMEX Frankfurt 2020

“This was a great success; an innovative campaign that captured the spirit of Lebanon,” cluster director of sales, marketing, revenue and reservations, Phoenicia Beirut and Le Vendome Beirut, Janet Abrahams noted.

Abrahams shared with TTG that Phoenicia Beirut and Le Vendome Beirut welcomed a notable increase in summer leisure travellers – a result of the effective campaign activities. Travel expert, Belair Travel & Tourism, also expressed positivity about the campaign.

“We witnessed positive results and more specifically, the months from September until the end of November were an extension of a very successful summer season,” marketing director, Belair Travel & Tourism, Elie Nammour told TTG.

“The campaign was needed to send a clear message about the readiness of the destination in terms of hospitality,” he added.

Mirroring this positive sentiment was general manager, Radisson Blu Martinez Beirut, Kosta Kourotsidis: “[‘Live Love Lebanon’] had a positive impact on the overall tourism industry, which reverted into a bigger number of visitors. It reactivated this sector.”

Having witnessed the positive impact of its colourful initiative, Lebanon’s Ministry of Tourism has continued to pursue online promotional campaigns. According to area vice president – Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, Rotana, Joseph Coubat, the Ministry has adopted a more innovative technological approach: “Every campaign launched is supported by social media and an online presence, accessible to all,” he noted. “This approach helps support Lebanon’s tourism [industry] and spread the touristic vision.”

FRUITFUL FORECASTS

Now on a promising upward trajectory, Lebanon’s tourism industry is in high spirits and ready to tackle the New Year.

“We are glad to see more returning guests to Lebanon and we believe that the increased security in the country, coupled with political stability, will sustain the growth in the tourism industry,” explained Coubat to TTG.

Throughout 2014, the country welcomed a diverse range of travellers hailing from markets spanning the globe, as well as the local market – a market of great significance.

“Local tourism targeting niche spots in Lebanon, coupled with international visitors willing to discover the highlights, had a great impact on the business. There are historic target markets that reveal that they are resilient under all circumstances and these include the GCC, Turkish, Iraqi, Jordanian and European markets,” Nammour shared.

“Looking forward, it is my understanding that specific action is required to target Asian markets such as South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and definitely China and Japan.”

Meanwhile, EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort, a property that is focusing on enticing a variety of growing segments such as wellness, corporate and religious travellers, has recorded heightened interest from locals as well as Lebanese expats living and working in the GCC, Australia and the Americas.

Speaking of the property’s action plan for 2015, marketing and communications manager, EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort, Joanne Zarife told TTG: “Our concentration this year will be on encouraging Russian tourists to visit as a viable and quality alternative to world renowned resorts.”

As for Radisson Blu Martinez Beirut, the property revealed that its focus for 2015 will be set on attracting further corporate and MICE visitors, medical tourists and city breakers.

Commenting on specific markets, Kourotsidis explained that the hotel’s main feeder markets throughout 2014 were Iraq and Egypt. “For 2015, Dubai will be the market to focus on in the region, where we will continue to invest our efforts and attract businessmen, since Dubai is currently the corporate hub in the region.”

With a similar vision to Radisson Blu Martinez Beirut, Phoenicia Beirut and Le Vendome Beirut will also be honing in on the corporate and MICE segments this year according to Abrahams.

“Corporate and MICE are our key markets, and leisure and wellness are seasonal peak periods, matching holiday periods. Both Lebanese locals and the vast amount of expat Lebanese located around the world are key to our business. Regional Levant markets were strong in 2014 and we saw new business from India.”

MESSAGE OF PROMISE

Its resilient character and an eclectic tourism product have been fundamental to Lebanon’s touristic success and charm, with this is turn being bolstered by dedicated tourism stakeholders.

“Lebanon has always been a hotspot in the region and this is partly also due to the diversity of its local citizens,” Coubat explained to TTG. “It has a lot of touristic attractions where culture meets entertainment.”

Finally, despite the complexities of the regional unrest, Kourotsidis expressed to TTG that Lebanon will always maintain its position as one of the most unique regions in MENA.

“Beirut will remain the Middle East’s capital of parties, and preserving this lifestyle is worth fighting for. Whether you want to shop, dance, party, enjoy summer and the beach, enjoy winter and the snow, visit historical sites or eat delicious food, Lebanon is a country that has it all. Wherever you go and as many countries as you may visit in your lifetime, Lebanon is a must-see destination. Don’t miss it.”

A united front, buoyant in nature, the tourism industry will forever remain loyal to Lebanon, pushing it as a unique, untouchable destination.