Lebanon’s number of tourists just less than 1.8 mln?!
Words by Stephanie d’Arc Taylor, video by Ghazal Salah and Jaafar Almadhoon.
Lebanon isn’t a destination most people associate with summer vacations.
This is partly due to understandable ignorance — most people don’t realize that Lebanon is home to 240 kilometers of azure Mediterranean coastlines and forested mountain ranges culminating in the tallest peak in the Levant.
The Middle Eastern country’s food culture, founded on some of the world’s most flavorful fresh produce, is also worthy of mention.
Despite these strong points in its favor, Lebanon’s well-documented troubles have prevented tourism from reaching its full potential here.
Mention you’re going to Lebanon for a vacation and a whole generation’s jaw will drop.
For them, the word “Beirut” still connotes the sniper fire and kidnappings that haunted the country during its bloody, 15-year civil war.
Nearly 30 years have passed since the end of the conflict, but sectarian angst hasn’t gone away, and plenty of factions still resort to violence to settle disagreements.
What’s more, the war in neighboring Syria and the resulting massive influx of refugees has destabilized Lebanon’s economy and led to damaging regional political spats.
While such challenges have undoubtedly impacted visitor numbers, the allure of the country’s natural beauty has proven strong for millennia.
From pre-Biblical times through to the country’s touristic heyday in the 1960s, and right through to the 21st century, curious travelers have sought out Lebanon.
Today, capital city Beirut’s nightlife and quirky museums attract more tourists than ever before, while its summer festivals — this month’s Cedars International Festival culminating in a performance by Andrea Bocelli — also draw in big crowds.
After drawing in just under two million visitors last year, the country is hoping for a new record in 2019.
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