An Incredible Destination on the Brink of Greatness

Al Merschen, Partner, International Insights, at MMGY Global Speaks at "Lebanon Tourism Industry: Driving Growth and Building Resilience" Seminar

  • Destination Representation
  • Destinations

How do thought leaders identify the next big destination marketing opportunities? They come to us.

I was invited to Beirut to speak at a seminar entitled: “Lebanon Tourism Industry: Driving Growth and Building Resilience.” I addressed more than 230 professionals on the merits of expanding distribution channels and developing branding in Lebanon as a vehicle for economic growth and job creation.

USAID leads efforts to provide international development assistance to partner countries – driven by the goal to lift lives, build communities and establish self-sufficiency. Chemonics International specializes in development through a network of more than 5,000 local specialists in nearly 70 countries. Together, the Lebanon Enterprise Development Project is dedicated to generating private sector employment through a number of areas including tourism, telecom and transport.

Some of the key messages that I brought to this audience:

  • Lebanon already has the ingredients to grow its tourism sector: the product, enthusiasm and high level of professionalism needed. Those three elements coupled with marketing will put Lebanon on the international tourism map.
  • The infrastructure is already in place, from Beirut’s incredible nightlife to seaside resorts and dramatic mountains that offer world-class skiing and summer activities.
  • In addition to its wealth of tourism experiences, Lebanon has a robust tech industry that will help bolster its development.
  • Among the key distribution channels, don’t overlook the value of travel advisors: They represent one-third of the U.S. travel market, which equates to $1 billion.
  • Although the majority of international U.S. travelers don’t tend to go far (North America and the Caribbean are most popular), one commonality is that they are seeking experiential immersion.
  • Using the nation of Rwanda as a case study, some of the most important elements of destination marketing include: defining the most appealing characteristics, identifying opportunities for tourism dispersal, and building a sustainable system around that.

Audience members represented a cross-section of the travel industry, entrepreneurs and academia, as well as delegates from the Office of the President of the Republic, Chairman of the Prime Ministry’s Social and Economic Council Tourism Committee. Other key players represented were the UN World Tourism Organization, TripAdvisor and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council.

For more than 30 years, I have served as the founder and CEO of Myriad, specializing in international destination representation. My far-reaching expertise in marketing to North American trade professionals, consumers and media has launched several destinations from under the radar to top of mind – including Australia’s Northern Territory, the Pacific island of Samoa, the Caribbean island of Dominica, and the city of Macao.