Lebanese Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian said on Wednesday that Lebanon is taking efforts to promote the Chinese-Lebanese tourism ties to a new height.
“One of the best implemented achievements to date which will attract more Chinese tourists to Lebanon is their exemption from long procedures to receive a visa and from paying fees to enter our country. All they need to have is a roundtrip ticket and a hotel reservation,” Guidanian told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Guidanian visited China by the end of August where he met with Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang and the two sides agreed on reactivating previously signed cooperation agreements.
Guidanian also agreed with Luo to encourage Lebanese travel agents to take part in tourism exhibitions in China in order to introduce Lebanon and its attractions, and to organize meetings among travel agents between the two sides to boost tourism exchange.
Guidanian said that the number of Chinese tourists in Lebanon has reached 9,450 in 2018.
“We have an increase by 22 percent in the number of Chinese tourists in the first eight months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 so my expectation is that we will reach around 12,500 Chinese tourists by the end of this year,” he said.
The minister said that the Chinese are showing increased interest in Lebanon because of the country’s cultural diversity, cuisine and tourism professionalism.
“We have great touristic places that are internationally renowned such as Baalbek, Byblos, Anjar in addition to Islamic and Christian religious tourist sites and the nightlife and freedom that people can find in the country,” he said, adding that shopping for luxurious brands in Lebanon competes with markets in Europe and other places.
Meanwhile, Guidanian pointed out that the Chinese usually find difficulty in coming to Lebanon due to the long flight hours.
“This can be solved by encouraging Chinese to visit Lebanon while they are visiting other countries in the region such as Turkey, Egypt, Emirates or Qatar,” he said.
Guidanian added that the Lebanese government is currently working on a plan to improve the public transport system to facilitate the transportation of tourists at low cost. He also noted that the airport’s expansion will be completed soon to host a higher number of passengers.