U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Mara Rudman completed her visit to Lebanon today by participating in Rural Tourism Day in Baskinta.
In the decades before the civil war, Lebanon was a renowned tourist destination, popular not only for Beirut’s cosmopolitan flair and nightlife, but also for its Mediterranean beaches, historic sites, and mountainous ski areas. Thirty years of conflict and political instability dramatically reduced the number of tourists and Lebanon’s most beautiful destinations became neglected.
Since 2003, USAID has partnered with rural communities and civil society to help rebuild the rural tourism sector. The jewel of these efforts is the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT), a 440 kilometer national hiking trail that runs the length of the country, connecting three natural reserves and more than 71 villages, including Baskinta, that offer trained guides and guest houses throughout. In 2008, LMT provided $4.2 million to the rural economy and is projected to reach $22 million by 2014. This translates to more jobs, opportunities for youth to stay in their communities, and the long-term preservation of Lebanon’s natural beauty and resources.
In Baskinta, Assistant Administrator Rudman participated in the Rural Tourism Day fair that featured over 20 vendors that promote rural tourism and support economic growth in rural communities. Vendors included “Beyond Beirut,” an NGO that promotes rural tourism and empowers communities with the tools they need to actively develop their local assets and also publishes Lebanon Traveler magazine. Local agricultural producers and processors as well as tourism and hospitality business also participated.
Last updated: November 29, 2012