Case Study

Strategy development: Lebanon

The Project Goals

Expand economic opportunities in rural Lebanon, preserving its livability and  charm while enhancing the wellbeing of its people.

Establish supply chain connections and develop sustainable tourism.

Outcomes

7

Promotion kits published,  including a recurring periodical:

Lebanon Traveler  

2

Non Governmental Organizations initiated, supporting destination development and crafts sector:

Architree E-commerce and Beyond Beirut NGO

50+

Village workshops and  stakeholder forums delivered

900

Skilled Hospitality and Tourism Workers Trained in three years.

The Challenge

Lebanon is a country of rare natural and cultural beauty. Previously, it was known as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Yet Lebanon’s tourism industry has suffered. In the 1970s, the country began to face challenges of unrest, crippled with security issues and travel bans. Rural areas became underserved and more isolated, forcing the young population to migrate to urban areas. The cultural identity of rural communities began to get lost and forgotten. Urban areas became dense… 

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and lacked resources and infrastructure to serve the unplanned overpopulation.

Expats and Diaspora represent at least three times the resident population of Lebanon. Their remittances helped economic resilience. They were an untapped source of tourism and economic growth. USAID and the Word Bank identified areas of intervention to support these connections, provide strategies and supervise implementation of development projects.

Across projects, the top challenges were to:

  • Alleviate rural poverty by expanding tourism dollars to marginalized communities.
  • Involve youth and women in rural areas by building their capacity to serve ecotourism projects.
  • Enhance the image of Lebanon as a tourist destination to match modern travelers’ expectations.

The Solutions

New partnership efforts and promotional campaigns led to creating 13 new tourism products under the categories of nature and culture tourism. Connections were established among stakeholders, leading to expanding marketing initiatives. A Tourism Inter-ministerial action plan was developed ro advise on the potentials for tourism as a sector for equitable economic growth. Domestic and Diaspora tourism reached remote regions and international niche tourism market arrivals increased.

 

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Innovative promotion tools and campaigns led to the creation of new domestic tourism trends and to the emergence of new sustainable tourism dialogs among tourism stakeholders. As people began to share their finds of hidden gems and engage in nature activities, customer generated promotions were leveraged. Local rural businesses offering 

Entrepreneurs offering responsible travel in rural Lebanon were represented at the Lebanon National Pavilion in WTM-London UK, ATM-Dubai UAE and NYIGF New York. Inbound tour operators included specific authentic components to their offer, generating income for women and youth as hosts and local guides. Nature reserves have become part of the national tourism promotion campaigns. A capacity building network established with master trainers reaches all Lebanon.

The National Lebanon Mountain Trail was developed with local partners, offering services and accommodation, attracting hikers worldwide. The new tourism supply chain is well mapped, and connected, including small and micro enterprises. Lebanon Traveler quarterly magazine was initiated to promote domestic tourism and highlight rural SMEs now adopted by the private sector and supported by the Ministry of Tourism.

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