LEBANON: Finding Its Niche (Part 2)

As a destination boasting diverse patchwork of mountains and coastline intertwined with a rich history, straddling both the Mediterranean its offering.

Encompassing mountainous ski slopes, ancient archaeological sites, diverse religious landmarks along with booming medical and eco-tourism demand, the country boasts a multitude of resilient niche tourism segments, yet has the ability to appeal to each and every traveller.

While underlining the importance of alternative segments, Azoury enthused, "The beauty of Lebanon is that it is always available to offer any needed type of tourism, this is what makes it a unique country, its diversity on all levels."

Azoury continued to mention that the country does not stop at one type of tourist, but spreads its wings wide, while the property in particular is tailor made to appeal to niche tourists.

Elie Nammour, marketing director, Belair Travel & Tourism, confirmed the value of these specialist markets and illustrated that they flourish organically, without the benefit of incentive or planning from either public or privates partnerships.

All in all, he pinpointed, "These niche sectors are of absolute importance in terms of generating genuine interest and [adding to the] authentic appeal of the destination." Nicknamed The Paris of the Middle East, the country also boasts a widespread cultural scene. As a regional hub of fashion and the arts it is a true fusion of east and west.

Unlike its more conservative neighbours, Rami Sayess, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, highlighted that Beirut in particular is renowned for being a cosmopolitan city, famous for its nightlight as well as world-class dining.

So much so that Sayess also noted that the capital had also been named Best International City for Food for the second consecutive year by Travel + Leisure.

Furthermore, in support of bolstering cultural tourism as well as the international and local arts, Saad explained that Le Gray is the official partner for three major events across the capital, BEIRUT ART FAIR, Beirut International Film Festivals and Photomed Liban.

Along with its reputation as a contemporary cultural destination, the country has a history dating back thousands of years and encompassed a broad range of cultures, making it an exciting archaeological focal point.

While enthusing that it is one of the richest countries in the region in terms of archaeology, Rania Choukai, director, sales and marketing, Le Commodore Hotel Beirut, depicted, "From stone age settlements to Phoenician city states like Byblos city, [and] from Roman temples to Ottoman Hammams, the country's historical sites are displayed all across [Lebanon]."

With a landscape that is punctuated with countless shrines and places of worship, Sayess also underscored the important role that religious tourism plays, another specialist segment that is readily available.