|New efforts aim to promote tourism in rural Lebanon (Daily Star)
|New efforts aim to promote tourism in rural Lebanon :
With 90 percent of tourists to Lebanon spending most of their time and money in Beirut and a handful of other tourist sites, three new products were offered on Wednesday to promote tourism in other parts of the country.
The products - the result of collaboration between the Tourism Ministry, the Social and Cultural Development Association and Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International - consisted of maps of archeological sites, promenade brochures and a new tour program.
"The archeological site maps are the first of their kind to be broadly distributed within Lebanon," said James Billings, project director of SRI International Lebanon, during a lunch held for the occasion.
"Developed by archeologists, these maps provide visitors with user-friendly, guided walking tours of five key archeological sites: Sidon, Tyre, Beiteddine, Baalbeck and Tripoli," he said.
As for the 2004 series of promenade brochures, Billings said, "They are a drastically-expanded version of the popular series introduced last year."
The new promenade series consists of four brochures covering the North, South, Mount Lebanon and Bekaa regions. Available in Arabic and English, the brochures, Billings said, will provide "the most comprehensive tourism information on lodging, restaurants and shopping opportunities in 300 villages."
Last but not least, the "Discover Lebanon" tours bring together 30 tour programs created by eight tour operators for the upcoming fall season.
"Developed along the themes of 'nature and adventure,' and 'cultural discovery,' the tours will surely interest those who wish to get off the beaten path to discover some of Lebanon's 'best-kept secret' tourism locations and outdoor adventure activities," Billings said.
Established in 1846, SRI is an international, independent, nonprofit research institute that conducts client-supported research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, foundations, and other organizations.
"Tourism's success raises the question of who actually is benefiting from this booming and growing sector," said Jeffery Feltman, the American Ambassador to Lebanon.
"Although accurate and up-to-date statistics are difficult to obtain, experts in the tourism industry estimate that well over 90 percent of the tourism dollars are spent in and around Beirut and a handful of the most famous tourist sites," Feltman said, adding that tourism had in fact had but a minimal impact on tangible economic benefits such as jobs, revenue and infrastructure development in rural Lebanon.
The Daily Star