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In the decades before the civil war, Lebanon was a renowned tourism destination, popular not only for Beirut’s cosmopolitan flair, but also for its Mediterranean beaches, historical 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, especially in areas outside of Beirut. Tourism has been one of Lebanon’s top industries, although it has been negatively affected by recent events in Syria. Tourism is largely centered in the Beirut region. To bring visitors and economic opportunities back to Lebanon’s tourist regions, USAID promotes sustainable rural and ecological tourism, rehabilitates sites, builds local capacity to host visitors, and helps facilitate linkages and information exchanges to support the entire tourism sector.
Our impacts in this sector include:
- Collection of information at more than 20,000 points of interest in Lebanon which were plotted on satellite maps that are available today on the Ministry of Tourism’s website. The maps provide visitors with an interactive website and help them plan itineraries and plot driving routes. Lebanon is the first country in the Middle East to have a powerful search engine and mapping capability dedicated to tourism promotion.
- Assistance to the Al Kafaat Foundation in Ain Saade to help improve the quality of cottage inns in rural areas and increase the number of workers and the quality of the tourism workforce.
- Design of a series of regional tourism promotion kits for the seven cazas, or districts, in northern Lebanon, to highlight rural villages and off-the-beaten-path attractions.
- Collaboration with Souk el Tayeb, the organizer of an organic farmers’ market in Lebanon, to support a series of five heritage food events celebrating local culinary and agricultural traditions.
- Establishment of the “Beyond Beirut” initiative by supporting the creation of an NGO to focus on tourism development and promotion in rural Lebanon. In 2011, in partnership with Hospitality Services, Beyond Beirut launched Lebanon Traveler, a quarterly magazine that highlights Lebanon’s hidden treasures and encourages new trends in sustainable outdoor entertainment.
Last updated: June 16, 2016