Lebanon reveals its strategy to get tourism back on track

The Lebanese Government has revealed its step-by-step strategy to lure tourists back to the war-ravaged destination.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  December 3, 2006

The Lebanese Government has revealed its step-by-step strategy to lure tourists back to the war-ravaged destination. “The first step is to improve the image of Lebanon; we have to re-build consumer confidence in the country and will use tools such as media and trade fam trips,” said Nada Sardouk Ghandour, Lebanon’s general director of tourism. “Once we have regained confidence we will embark on an aggressive advertising campaign in 2007, but for now, this tactic would be too transparent. How could we say how great the destination is when people know we are still recovering from the war?” Visitor arrivals to Lebanon were up 49% year-on-year for the January to April 2006 period and the country had been on track to receive a 6% increase in tourist arrivals to more than 1.6 million for the year. Hotel occupancies had reached 70% before July and were set to hit the 100% mark over the summer period, but plummeted to almost zero when hostilities with Israel escalated. The short war caused damage worth US $15 billion, and cost Lebanon 1200 civilian lives. Ghandour said the Jordanians had been the first to travel back to Lebanon post-war. “The Middle East travel industry has really supported us too,” she added. Lebanese Tourism Minister, Joseph Sarkis, told the media last month that it was “business as usual” in Lebanon and that arrivals and occupancy figures for September to November and forward bookings into 2007 revealed the destination was well on the road to recovery. “Up until the end of the year we will recover and come back to the levels [of arrivals] which we saw last year,” he said. Beirut’s hotels were full for Eid and occupancy rates of between 60% and 80% were expected for Christmas and New Year period, he added. The Jordanian Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, Munir Y Nassar, told ATN the war in Lebanon had also affected Jordan. “In the short-term we had an influx of Lebanese and Gulf nationals from Lebanon. But then in Autumn, we lost quite a lot of business from Spain and Italy,” he said. “It’s looking brighter for spring.”

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