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Lebanon Back on the International Tourism Map with AWTTE 2008

Lebanon: Thursday, October 30 - 2008 @ 14:21

Over 6,300 from 39 countries attended AWTTE 2008. Trade visitors registered 40% of the total number of visitors with 20% coming from international destinations.

Laahiru Jayamanne, Jetwing Travels, Sri Lanka, Exhibitor:

“We wanted to explore the Lebanese market and AWTTE helped us a lot in getting our presence there. We would like to add this event as an annual thing in our promotional calendar.”

Under the patronage of the Lebanese President, General Michel Sleiman, AWTTE 2008 opened its doors on October 16 at BIEL Cetner in Beirut. The four-days exhibition were organized by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism and Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group in cooperation with Middle East Airlines and sponsored by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) as Strategic Partner, Rotana as Host Hotel and City Car as the Official Car Rental.

Pierretta Sfeir, Tourism Manager, City Car, Official Car Rental: “After 2 years of obligatory absence, AWTTE 2008 helped the Lebanese tourism industry regain international credibility in this market. It also provided an unrivalled networking opportunity to both exhibitors and hosted buyers to communicate new ideas and launch new products.”

The event attracted 13 national pavilions with 5 national boards participating for the first time naming Cyprus, France, India, Iran, Jordan, Kurdistan region, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Turkey, Sri Lanka, UAE with the host country, Lebanon. AWTTE also registered 110 exhibitors with 54% international companies.

Majeda Behbahani, Director of Marketing and International Relations, Tourism Sector, Kuwait Ministry of Trade and Industry, Exhibitor: “For the fifth edition, Kuwait is participating at AWTTE considering its importance to develop bi-lateral relations between the 2 countries as well as support Lebanon’s economy and tourism industry.”

Hrach Kalsahakian, Cyprus Tourism Organization, Exhibitor: “AWTTE has great potential to become a regional tourism exhibition, especially with the revitalization of the role of Lebanon. It is our aim to highlight our presence in the Lebanese market and this exhibition is the gateway to Lebanese tourism.”

Opening Ceremony:

The opening ceremony was attended aside to Lebanese Minister of Tourism, Elie Marouni, Joranian Minster of Tourism and Antiquities, Maha Khatib, Minister of Tourism in Kurdistan Region Yuhana Namrud, Chairman of Iraq National Investment Authority, Ahmad Rida, Director General of the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, Nada Sardouk, and General Manager of Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Raouf Abou Zaki.

Minister Marouni commented by stressing the fact that the forum has been held successfully in Beirut notwithstanding regional tension and the world financial crisis, which is now considered to be the worst financial upheaval that hit the world since the great depression of 1929. Marouni added, “This event proves beyond doubt Lebanon’s ability to regain its previous role as a tourist destination and a strong economy in the region.”

Jordanian Minister of Tourism, Maha Al Khatib said, “Since my appointment as the President of Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism in its 11th round, I made sure to improve communication between Arab countries with view of highlighting to all the immense and unique tourism resources and opportunities we have in our countries. I believe we have huge untapped resources whether in cultural tourism or leisure tourism or even religious tourism.” Khatib gave the example of Petra, which was voted as one of the top wonders of the world and thus helped to increase tourism flows and income from tourism for the year 2008.

Chairman and General Manager of IDAL, Nabil Itani, stressed the fact that Lebanon took the second place in investment flows for the period 2005-2007. Lebanon also came 10th among 141 countries worldwide. In 2007, financial flow to Lebanon represented 11.6 percent of the total GDP, and this is the highest share among all Arab countries. Itani concluded by stressing that investment in the tourism sector amounted to 87 percent of the total investments that were dealt with by IDAL.

In his opening speech, Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal General Manager, Raouf Abou Zaki, emphasized that the participation in 13 national pavilions and a large number of companies and institutions representing the tourism industry indicates the growing importance of tourism as a major component in the GDPs of many Arab countries. Mr. Abu Zaki suggested that AWTTEE is playing an important role as the leading platform for monitoring trends and discussing the future of Arab tourism industry. Abou Zaki remarked that plans to develop Inter-Arab Tourism cannot be based on isolated measures taken by individual countries but requires a regionally coordinated effort to liberalize the market and facilitate the flow of tourism among regional markets.

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Thursday, October 30- 2008 @ 14:21 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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