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Pharaon targets nervous tourists from Gulf in major tourism drive

Minister Michel Pharaon speaks during a conference at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: The Tourism Ministry will endeavor to encourage Arab Gulf tourists to return to Lebanon, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon said Thursday.

“Removing the travel ban is a very essential step in reviving the tourism sector,” he stressed during the launch of the 21st session of Horeca 2014, the region’s premier hospitality and food event.

Pharaon said he hoped to see both Arabs and Lebanese expatriates returning as tourists in the coming summer season.

Tourism, mainly catering to visitors from the Gulf, has been hit as travel warnings over possible abductions and other security threats kept Arab tourists away in 2012. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait issued similar warnings again in 2013.

Pharaon vowed to diversify the sector by promoting medical, cultural, religious and ski tourism.

Pierre Ashkar, head of the Hotel Owners Association, said that Horeca was being held at an excellent time, because tourism in Lebanon relied on businessmen, exhibitions and conferences.

Horeca’s organizers anticipate an unprecedented number of visitors, drawn by a raft of new competitions and attractions. The event will feature nearly 15,000 square meters of product displays, as well as a program of culinary, business and innovation activities.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 14, 2014, on page 5.

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