Lebanon: trash crisis tars image but eco-tourists undeterred

Published November 19th, 2015 - 08:40 GMT
Eco-tourists headed for guesthouses in rural areas in September and October while Beirut continued to grapple with the trash crisis. (AFP/File)
Eco-tourists headed for guesthouses in rural areas in September and October while Beirut continued to grapple with the trash crisis. (AFP/File)

Despite the negative impact of the trash crisis on Lebanon’s image worldwide, the country saw a fair demand for environmental tourism, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon said Wednesday. “The months of September and October saw a fair demand for guesthouses in rural areas, and the development of proper infrastructure may increase the demand for environmental tourism from 5 percent to 20 percent in the next five years,” he said during a conference held to announce results of ENPI-CBC MED project funded by the European Union.

Dubbed “Mediterranean Experience of Eco-Tourism,” the ENPI CBC Mediterranean project is a multilateral cross-border cooperation initiative funded by the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument. The main objective is to develop an integrated strategy, which foresees coordinated actions, in order to settle an eco-tourism development model for the Mediterranean area that boosts a better seasonal distribution of tourism flows.

Pharaon added that in general, tourism activity in Lebanon was successful until July of this year, as it saw an increase by 15 percent compared to the same month in the previous year. “But when the trash crisis started in July, tourism expenditure dropped despite the various festivals taking place in the country and the hard work by environmental and tourism associations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ismat Kerdasha, representative of the cross-border joint cooperation office for the MED project in Jordan, said that Lebanon received around 59 projects within the framework of ENPI- CBC MED funded by the European Union at a value of 34 million euros ($36 million) distributed among tourism, transport, agriculture and water projects.

He added that the EU will launch a new project in 2016 at a value of 204 million euros and it will cover more countries than the current project.


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