Lebanon launches campaign to revive tourism sector

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – In 2013 Lebanon can expect 50 days of discounts on airline tickets, hotels and at shopping centers as part of a campaign to revive the country’s tourism sector after months of stagnation, the country’s tourism minister announced Tuesday.

“We had our first meeting of the Lebanese Council for Promotions and decided to launch 50 days of discounts in Lebanon starting Jan. 8 until Feb. 28, including discounts on airline tickets, hotels, car rentals as well as at restaurants and shopping centers,” Fadi Abboud said at the Grand Serail.

Abboud’s remarks came after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Attendees at the meeting included the director-general of the Tourism Ministry Nada Sardouk, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry Wafiq Rahimi, Middle East Airlines chairman Mohammad Hout and the head of the hotel owners’ association Pierre Ashkar, among others.

Abboud said discounts during the 50-day period would reach up to 50 percent in some instances and that there would be some “very special prices” on offer.

The minister added that MEA would be offering travel packages that include hotel reservations at “unprecedented prices in Lebanon.”

He expressed hopes that the measures would help “bring back the beautiful life to Lebanon.”

Abboud also urged politicians to tone down their rhetoric during the 50-day period.

“We ask politicians to give us a break of 50 days for the sake of the tourism sector’s success as we ask for 50 days of love and peace,” he said.

He added that MEA would be offering travel packages that include hotel reservations at “unprecedented prices in Lebanon.”

Regional turmoil, particularly the conflict in Syria, has dealt a heavy blow to tourism in Lebanon, with restaurants closing down and hospitality services, including hotels, amassing losses.

In addition, earlier this year several Gulf Corporation Council states issued travel advisories to their citizens, urging them to refrain from traveling to Lebanon over security concerns.

The subsequent decline in tourism in recent months has led to a sharp fall in business, forcing many shops and restaurants in Downtown Beirut and other regions to close down.