Tourism Minister Fadi Aboud was all smiles at this year’s Arabian Travel Market taking place at the Dubai Convention Center and he had quite a lot to say:

“Prove Israel wrong by visiting Lebanon. They have been trying to give the impression of another war. I can assure you, there is no possibility of a war in Lebanon,”
“We are among the few countries that were not affected by the global financial crisis. This year, we expect a strong growth in international arrivals,”

Good to hear. And what about opening airline competition in the country?

The Lebanese government is expected to open its skies to competition in 2012, until which its flag carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) will enjoy a monopoly, he said.
“We have an agreement to protect the national airline MEA till 2012. We want it to become more profitable before we open up the sky for private airlines,” Aboud said.

Any chance of adding a few more airports?

… the government is planning to open two military airfields for civil aviation that will help charter airlines and new private airlines to operate.
“These will be also ideal for budget airlines,” he said.

I hear you are also going to make it easier to get a Visa to Lebanon?

… Lebanon is trying to liberalise the visa policy to allow more tourist flow across the Arab world.
“During the Ottoman period, people moved freely without visa formalities. Now we have to pay $200 for a single entry — this is outrageous and should be reduced to allow free movement of people across the region,” he said.

As long as its based on reciprocal treatment then that should be fine. How close are we to having another airline out of Beirut? Well, Dubai-based businessman, Georges Mousa, has got his pilot’s hat on:

“The plan for the airline is ready. However, we will have to wait for the Lebanese Government to open up the skies for competition,” Mousa, who owns Dubai-based Planet Group, told Gulf News. The name of the airline is yet to be decided.

Fadi Aboud -Lebanon's Tourism Minister Talks Tourism

Fadi Aboud -Lebanon's Tourism Minister Talks Tourism