Tourism in Lebanon he tourism industry in Lebanon has been historically important to the local economy and remains to this day to be a major source of revenue for Lebanon. Before the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut was widely regarded as “The Paris of the Middle East,” often cited as a financial and business hub where visitors could experience the Levantine Mediterranean culture. Lebanon’s diverse atmosphere and ancient history make it an important destination which is slowly rebuilding itself after continued turmoil.
Lebanon offers plenty: from ancient Roman ruins, to well preserved castles, limestone caves, historic Churches and Mosques, beautiful beaches nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, world renown Lebanese cuisine, nonstop nightlife and discotheques, to mountainous ski resorts. Significant private investment is currently being made in the modernization and expansion of this sector and international hotel companies have returned to Lebanon. Casino du Liban, which historically constituted a major tourist destination, reopened in 1996.
Lebanon is the only country in theArab world that offers skiing and related winter sports activities. The largest ski resort in the country has been expanded and modernized. The Government believes that, because of the return of peace and stability to the country and with the development of the necessary infrastructure, tourism will again contribute significantly to Lebanon’s economy. Lebanon’s tourism industry also relies on the large number of Lebanese living abroad, who return regularly to the country during the summer season.  Contents [hide] * 1 Cultural tourism * 1. Archaeotourism * 2 Museums * 3 Religious Tourism * 4 World heritage sites * 4. 1 Anjar * 4. 2 Baalbeck * 4. 3 Byblos * 4. 4 Qadisha Valley and Cedars Forest * 4. 5 Tyre * 5 Ecotourism * 5. 1 Lebanese outdoors * 5. 2 Winter Sports * 6 Leisure * 7 Lebanese cuisine * 8 Lebanese crafts * 9 Popular tourist destinations in Lebanon * 10 Lebanese festivals * 11 Statistics and economy * 11. 1 Recent years * 12 Bibliography * 13 References * 14 External links| ————————————————- edit]Cultural tourism Old City of Sidon Lebanon is considered to be a mosaic of cultural diversity, where the Eastern and Western worlds meet in all their unique and historical richness. FromStone Age settlements to Phoenician city-states, from Roman temples to rock-cut hermitages, from Crusader Castles to Mamluk mosques andOttoman hammams, the country’s historical and archaeological sites are a true encyclopedia of ancient and modern world history.  Lebanon has a long standing history of cultural tourism.
Interest in the Lebanese Levantine culture was stirred following the visits of many Europeanorientalists, scholars and poets particularly Alphonse de Lamartine, Ernest Renan and Victor Guerin.  Lebanon’s cultural tourism focal points are historic monuments, archaeological sites, cultural venues, traditional art, rural customs, religious festivals and pilgrimage. Archaeotourism Archaeology in Lebanon has an old and productive history, many archaeological sites have been excavated and some restored, yet many remain buried under inhabited areas within the cities. 5] ————————————————- Museums Main article: List of museums in Lebanon Sursock Museum in Beirut. * Beirut National Museum, established in 1937 the museum exhibits about 100,000 objects, most of which are antiquities and medieval findings with approximately 1300 artifacts ranging in date from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period. * Gibran Museum, originally a monastery in Bsharri, it was transformed into a museum by the Gibran National Committee in honoring of the Lebanese American philosopher, writer, poet, painter and theologian Gibran Khalil Gibran.
The museum exhibits Gibran’s notebooks, furniture, personal library, and paintings.  * AUB Museum, the third oldest museum in the near east, the AUB Museum exhibits Levantine artifacts from the Early Stone Age to the Islamicperiod.  The National Museum, Beirut Other major museums: * Ameen Rihani Museum * M. Farroukh Museum * Museum and Library of the Catholicosate of Cilicia * Baalbek Museum * Dahesh Museum of Art * Lebanese Heritage Museum * Expo Hakel Lebanon * Robert Mouawad Private Museum Lebanon * Byblos Fossil Museum Sursock Museum * Byblos Wax Museum * Memory of Time Museum * Sidon Soap Museum * Museum of Lebanese Prehistory Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa ————————————————- Religious Tourism Located in the heart of the two major world religions, Christianity and Islam, Lebanon has an old and rich religious background with diverse traditions. This is evident in the religious and multicultural blend that can be seen till present times and which gives a unique identity to the Lebanese society.
Lebanon has been a refuge for persecuted religious groups from thousands of years, and thus adding a vast amount of religious heritage to the country in both Christian and Islamic sanctuaries and holy places.  ————————————————- World heritage sites Anjar Tetrapylon at the center of the city of Anjar Inscribed as a world heritage site in 1984, Anjar was a commercial center for Levantine trade routes.  At only 1,300 years old, Anjar is one of Lebanon’s newer archaeological sites. 10] It was founded by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abdel Malek (in the beginning of the 8th century) and takes its name from the ArabicAin Gerrah meaning “the source of Gerrah”, related to the Umayyad stronghold founded in the same era.  The city’s wide avenues are lined with mosques, palaces, baths, storehouses, and residences. The city ruins cover 114,000 square meters and are surrounded by large, fortified stone walls, over two meters thick and seven meters high. The rectangular city design is based on Roman city planning and architecture, with stonework and other features borrowed from the Byzantines.
Two large avenues – the 20-meter-wide Cardo Maximus, running north to south, and the Decumanus Maximus, running east to west – divide the city into four quadrants. At the crossroads in the center of the city, four great tetrapylons mark the four corners of the intersection.  Baalbeck Roman temple of Bacchus in Baalbeck During the Phoenician era, Baalbek was a small village where a triad of fertility gods were worshiped ( Baal-Shamash, Anat, and Aliyan). Little remains of the Phoenician structures of the city which was later named Heliopolis under the Hellenistic rule and extensively rebuilt by the Romans.
After the arrival of the Romans to Phoenicia in 64 B. C. , the city was transformed to a celebrated sanctuary where a Romanized triad of gods was worshiped (Jupiter, Venus and Mercury) and it was overlaid during a period of two centuries by a series of colossal temples.  Modern-day visitors to Baalbek can enter the site through the grand Roman propylaea and walk through the two large colonnaded courtyards to reach the complex’s great temples: * The Temple of Jupiter was the largest Roman temple ever constructed. Today, just six of the original 54 Corinthian columns remain standing.
Each column is 22 meters (66 ft) high and 2 meters (7. 5 ft) in diameter, hinting at the temple’s enormous size in the time of the Roman Empire . * The Temple of Bacchus is the best-preserved Roman temple in the Middle East. Although smaller than the Temple of Jupiter, the Temple of Bacchus is still larger than the Parthenon in Athens. The dedication and purpose of this temple, and its relationship to the rest of the temple complex, remain a mystery. * The Temple of Venus is a smaller, domed structure set apart to the southeast of the complex.
During the Byzantine period, the temple was converted into a church honoring Saint Barbara. * Only part of the staircase from the Temple of Mercury can still be seen on Sheikh Abdallah hill, a short distance away from the main temple site.  Baalbek was inscribed as a world heritage site in 1984.  The Byblos Port Byblos Byblos was inscribed as a world heritage site in 1984. Inhabited since the Neolithic age, it witnessed the arrival of successive civilizations, from Phoenicians and Crusaders to Ottoman Turks.
Byblos is a historical Mediterranean region dating back thousands of years and closely associated with the spread of the Phoenician alphabet.  The main touristic sites in Byblos: * Ancient Phoenician Temples, that include the Great Temple or L-Shaped temple, Temple of Baalat Gebal, and the Temple of the Obelisks. * Byblos Castle, a 12th century Crusader castle located near the port. * Byblos Mosque, considered to be the oldest mosque in the world. * Medieval City Wall * Byblos Wax Museum * St John the Baptist Church, a Crusader church built in 1150. * Byblos Fossil Museum Historic Quarter and Souks, near the entrance of the archaeological site. View of the Kadisha Valley and the Cedars Forest in the background Qadisha Valley and Cedars Forest Inscribed as a world heritage site in 1998, the Qadisha Valley and Cedars Forest (also known as the Forest of the Cedars of God) are considered to be of significant importance. The Qadisha valley was a settlement of early Christian monasticism, situated in a rugged landscape north of the Western Mountain Range of Lebanon. Near the valley lies the Cedars forest, a nature reserve dedicated for the preservation of the last Cedar trees, used n antiquity for the construction of Phoenician boats and religious buildings.  List of monasteries in the Qadisha Valley: * The Qannubin Monastery, the oldest of the Maronite monasteries in the valley. * The Monastery of St Anthony of Qozhaya, traditionally founded in the 4th century by St Hilarion. * The Monastery of Our Lady of Hawqa, founded in the late 13th century by villagers from Hawqa. * The Monastery of Mar Sarkis, Ehden, successively built in the 8th century, 1198 and 1690. * The Monastery of Mar Lishaa, comprising a Maronite solitary order and a Barefoot Carmelite order.
The Triumphal Arch in Tyre, Lebanon Other monasteries consist of the Monastery of Mar Girgis, with the Chapel of Mar Challita, the Monastery of Mar Yuhanna, the Monastery of Mar Abun, with the Hermitage of Mar Sarkis, and the Monastery of Mart Moura, Ehden. Tyre Tyre was inscribed as a world heritage site in 1984. It was the birthplace of the purple dye known as Tyrian purple and had founded several colonies in the Mediterranean such as Carthage and Cadiz. Many civilizations successively settled in Tyre from Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans to Crusaders and Ottoman Turks.
Today, there are still many valuable remains mainly from the Roman era.  Major archaeological sites in Tyre: * Al-Bass site, having a three bay monumental arch, an extensive necropolis and a large hippodrome (all dating from the 2nd century AD to the 6th century AD). * City site, in the old Phoenician island city, it consists of colonnades, public baths, mosaics, streets, a vast district of civic buildings and a rectangular arena. ————————————————- Ecotourism Trekking in the Dunnieh mountains Ecotourism in Lebanon has a rich background of natural diversity and a wide ange of outdoor activities. With an original landscape consisting of mountains, forests, wildlife, beaches, snow fed rivers, caves, valleys and gorges, Lebanon is becoming more of an outdoor destination where people can visit its natural reserves and practice their ecotourism activities.  Horsh Ehden nature reserve Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve Ecotourism activities and sports: * ATV (All-terrain vehicle) * Rafting * Hiking * Caving * Dirt biking * Via Ferrata * Rappelling * Horse riding * Snowboarding * Mountain biking * Mountain climbing Natural reserves: * Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve * La Reserve Afqa * Palm Islands Nature Reserve * Tannourine Nature Reserve * Tyre Beach Nature Reserve * Yammouneh Nature Reserve Lebanese outdoors Lebanon’s nature and geography, which are unique to the Middle East region, allow the practice of outdoor activities (mainly concentrated in the summer season). Nowadays, these activities are gaining more interest from nature lovers and becoming well equipped with the specific requirements and facilities.  Major Outdoor activities: * Camping, a popular outdoor activity concentrated between the months of May and September. Caving, an important Lebanese natural heritage (3 of the major caves are Afqa Grotto, Roueiss cave and Ain El Libne). *
Cycling, a notable activity of recent interest. * Hiking, an activity with a high number of trails (some of the hiking locations are Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, Ramlieh, Qammouah, theHorsh Ehden reserve and Nahr Ibrahim). * Paragliding, one of the best glide ports in the Middle East (the paragliding locations are The Cedars, Lassa, Miziara, Harissa, Barouk andFaraya). * Rafting, a recently introduced sport practiced in locations like the Assi, the Litani and the Awali rivers. edit]Winter Sports Although Lebanon is considered to be a summer destination, winter sports are becoming more in demand due to the close geographical location of the mountain peaks from the Mediterranean sea and the unique winter experience that visitors have. Lebanese winter sports include Alpine skiing and Cross Country in addition to paragliding, snowmobiling, and hiking.  The Ski resorts: * The Cedars, 1850–3087 m above sea level and 120 km from Beirut. * Laqlouq, 1750-2200m above sea level and 60 km from Beirut. * Faqra, 1800–2400 m above sea level and 45 km from Beirut. Faraya-Mzaar, 1850–2500 m above sea level and 45 km from Beirut. * Qanat Bakiche, 1900 m above sea level and 60 km from Beirut. * Zaarour, 1700–2000 m above sea level and 40 km from Beirut. ————————————————- Leisure Riviera Beach and Hotel Resort Lebanon has a 200 km of seashore with about 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a favorable destination for leisure and activities that expand in different parts of the country.  Popular Beaches and water parks in Lebanon: * Oceana beach resort * Edde Sands * Laguava Resort Cyan * Janna sur mer * Green Beach * Riviera Beach Club * Bamboo bay * Waves Aquapark * Watergate Aquapark Art Galleries in Lebanon: * Zamaan Gallery, includes a collection of more than 1700 paintings by Lebanese and Middle Eastern artists (www. zamaangallery. com) ————————————————- Lebanese cuisine Main article: Lebanese cuisine A typical Lebanese mezze The Lebanese cuisine, mostly resembling Turkish cuisine, combines the exotic ingredients of the Middle and Far East with the sophistication ofEuropean cuisine.
Although the Lebanese cuisine has a recent popularity throughout the world, its history dates back to pre-biblical times. This easternMediterranean cuisine, which is located in a relatively small geographical area, has had a major influence on Middle Eastern cuisine and other neighboring culinary cultures. Nowadays, Lebanese cuisine is known throughout the world, especially with the recent emphasis on the health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine. The significant importance of this ancient cuisine has also inspired professional chefs and restaurateurs across the country to feature exciting Lebanese items on their menus.
Popular Lebanese Restaurants in Lebanon: Mounir, Karamna, Leila, Al Balad, Kababji, and Al Halabi ————————————————- Lebanese crafts Wood works on display in Carpenter’s Alley, Sidon Lebanese crafts have a sense of style and beauty that attract many tourists interested in these unique handcrafted items which are considered as a significant souvenir of the tour. The production method of Lebanese crafts are mainly concentrated in small villages where the old skills are handed from generation to generation, produced from local raw materials and carefully made with a sophisticated aesthetic and skill.
Different regions of the country specialize in various handicrafts such as basketry, carpet weaving, ceramics and pottery, copper and metalworking, embroidery, glass blowing, and gold and silver smithing. Some Lebanese villages are also known for their finely crafted church bells.  ————————————————- Popular tourist destinations in Lebanon Nejmeh square in Beirut Central District * Sidon a 6,000 year old city on the southern coast of Lebanon.
This city is an up-and-coming tourist destination boasting several attractions like the Sidon Soap Museum, Sidon Sea Castle, Old City, Our Lady of Mantara, Eshmun Temple… etc. * Faraya Mzaar Kfardebian a prominent Lebanese ski area and mountain resort. * Beirut the capital city which features thriving nightlife, fantastic restaurants, and the famous Raouche Rock * Harissa where visitors can take the Teleferique up Mount Harissa to visit Our Lady of Lebanon. * Jeita Grotto recognized as one of the most magnificent limestone caves in the world. Beiteddine a small city in Chouf which hosts the Beiteddine Palace and the Beiteddine Festival. * Batroun a small city in north Lebanon which has the famous Mousaylaha citadel built by the Crusaders. * Tripoli, Lebanon the second largest city which has seen many empires, with an infamous souk, the 5,000 year old Tripoli Castle, and one of the oldest ports in the world in its neighboring city El Mina. * Beirut Central District is the cultural and economic hub of the country. Home to numerous historical sites, the BCD also hosts a wide array of hotels, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs… etc.
It is by far the most visited tourist venue in Lebanon. During the summer, the squares and parks of the BCD turn into huge open-air concert halls boasting regional and international performance. ————————————————- Lebanese festivals Inner courtyard of the Beiteddine palace where the Beiteddine Festival takes place. There is a wide range of festivals that take place in Lebanon, especially in the summer season where festivities including both Lebanese and international performers take place in major archaeological and historical sites, including Baalbek, Byblos (Jbail), and Beiteddine. 27] Major Lebanese festivals: * Aanjar Festival * Al Bustan Festival * Baalbeck International Festival * Beiteddine Festival * Byblos International Festival * Deir el Qamar Festival * Tyre Festival ————————————————- Statistics and economy 3 MEA Airbus A321s parked at the west wing of Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport Tourism was once a very important contributor to Lebanon’s economy, accounting for almost 20 percent of the GDP in the 2 decades before the start of the civil war.
Since the end of the war, the sector has managed to revive somewhat, but tourism has yet to return to its pre-war levels. Tourism in 1999 accounted for 9 percent of the GDP. In 2001, the tourism sector was one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, with the number of tourists visiting Lebanon between 1996 and 2000 growing at the rate of 14 percent annually.  In 2003 the tourism industry contributed 6. 374 billion U. S. dollars to the Lebanese economy and in 2005 the receipts per capita reached 1,433 U. S. dollars. 29] In 2006 the ministry of Tourism counted 373,037 admissions to the country’s main ministry run touristic sites.  In 2009, Lebanon hosted about two million tourists, a record number, passing the previous 1974 record of 1. 4 million tourists.  The number of tourists grew by 39% over the previous year, the largest increase in any country according the World Tourism Organization.  Most of the increase is due to heightened political stability and security. Lebanon was also featured by several international media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and Paris Match, as a top tourist destination at the beginning of 2009. 33] Lebanon’s annual income from tourism reached $7 billion, about 20 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Minister of Tourism.  Despite the recent surge in popularity as a tourist destination, the U. S. State Department continues to “urge U. S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns”.  Recent years Year| International Tourist Arrivals|  Market share in the Middle East| 1995| 450,000| | 2000| 472,000| 3. 1%| 2003| 1,016,000| | 2004| 1,278,000| | 2005| 1,140,000| 2. 9%| 2010| 2,351,081| | 2011| 2,001,811| |