Lebanon isn’t exactly synonymous with safety. The country and its capital, Beirut, have been in the international headlines for all the wrong reasons (think civil wars, assassinations and a spate of car bombings). Subsequently, the perception still lingers that Lebanon is a closed society, off-limits to outsiders.
However, if Lebanon’s minister of tourism, Fady Abboud, is to be believed, the years of fear and loathing are (for now at least) over and the Middle East’s most cosmopolitan country is open for business. Abboud says that he feels safer in Lebanon than London – where he wouldn’t dream of walking down a street wearing an expensive Rolex watch, for fear of being mugged. While Abboud is guilty of hyperbole when he says that “Lebanon is the safest place in the world”, it’s certainly true that the country is no longer off limits. As Abboud put it: “Stats always speak louder than words and the stats show that Lebanon has had no serious security problems in recent years.”
Addressing a group of reporters at London Travel Market, the tourism minister was also keen to stress that visitors shouldn’t get stuck in Beirut. Beyond Beirut, a score of scenic attractions awaits from Jeita Grotto (a vast complex of caves that just might become the new seventh wonder of the world) to the ancient fishing village of Byblos and historic sites such as Baalbek to the north and Beiteddine to the south.
And with three direct flights to Lebanon from London, getting there has never been easier…