People hike in Rahbe, Akkar, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Vamos Todos)
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BEIT MERY, Lebanon: Better known for the capital's glittering nightlife and exclusive beach clubs, Lebanon is launching a new, ambitious strategy to promote something entirely different: rural tourism.Drawn up by Beyond Beirut, a non-profit dedicated to rural tourism, after extensive interviews with stakeholders in the tourism industry, including guesthouses, eco-tourism ventures and NGOs, the strategy aims to develop and market Lebanon's vast tourism potential outside of its urban areas.The 50-plus page plan unveiled Thursday is only a first draft, with a one-month comment period open for tourism operators and the general public to review and make suggestions before the five-year strategy is officially endorsed by the Tourism Ministry.The new initiative comes as Lebanon is suffering a tourism slump, with regional strife and domestic security incidents scaring off many foreign tourists.The strategy highlights a number of existing and potential attractions that can be further developed to appeal to both local and foreign visitors, including eco-tourism, agri-tourism and adventure, wine and religious attractions throughout the country.
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