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BEIRUT, Lebanon, - USAID Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson and Lebanon Minister of Tourism, Michel Pharaon, inaugurated the third National Rural Tourism Forum, at Le Royal Hotel, Beirut. The forum, organised by Beyond Beirut and the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project, brought together more than 100 experts and stakeholders from the Lebanese rural tourism community, highlighting the coordinated efforts by the public and private sectors to promote rural Lebanon.

Held under the theme "Rural Lebanon in Motion," the forum focused on the Strategy for Rural Tourism Development for Lebanon, which was developed with USAID's support and launched by the Ministry of Tourism, in Feb, 2015.

In her remarks, Dr. Patterson voiced the importance of boosting rural tourism as a key driver of the rural economy. She noted that rural tourism "can provide rural residents with business and employment opportunities, empower women and youth, spark an interest in the heritage and culture of rural areas, and increase community cooperation."

Minister Pharaon, who endorsed and adopted the strategy, expressed his satisfaction with the progress achieved to date, and stressed the importance of building on these achievements, to further develop the tourism sector in rural Lebanon.

Since 2012, the United States has invested 2.9 million dollars, to boost rural tourism by supporting local organisations and the private sector. These efforts are focused on offering quality products and services, promoting quality standards for rural hospitality businesses, and conducting training for more than 1,200 individuals, on hospitality management and food safety, more than half of them women.

More than 730 jobs have been created or supported, as a result of LIVCD interventions.-

Source: Nam News Network