Lebanon’s tourism industry has registered a 30 percent increase in inbound visitors in 2008 to 1.3 million, according to new figures released by Lebanese government. The huge rise is being attributed to a new peace agreement made by the government last year.The country experienced its heyday in the Sixties and early Seventies when it was described as the Middle East’s answer to the Med - upmarket beach clubs, swanky nightclubs and glitzy promenades.
The start of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 put all but an end to the country’s tourism. But now the country is slowly rebuilding itself after decades of turmoil, and with it a growing number of foreign tourists.
Much of the damage caused in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas has been restored and was concentrated in south Beirut and southern Lebanon, areas that foreign tourists typically avoid.
Much of Beirut’s historic downtown, which was badly damaged during the 1975-1990 Civil War, has been repaired with many international chains moving in. Hilton and Four Seasons are set to open new hotels soon.
Lebanon’s diverse patchwork of Mediterranean-lapped coast, rugged alpine peaks, and green fertile valleys is tightly fitted into a parcel of land of just 225km long and 46km wide - an area approximately the size of Cyprus. Its cities were major outposts and seaports in Phoenician and Roman times, just two of the great civilizations that touched this important Middle Eastern crossroads.
There are four main geographic regions in Lebanon, differentiated by topography and climate. From west to east, they include: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon Range, the Békaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range.