Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud was at the World Travel Market in London last week, presenting Lebanon to the world (along with 200 other countries). But unlike other marketing teams that gave the “everything is perfect in our country for tourists” song-and-dance, the Independent got a more candid response from Minster Abboud:
In reference to flying into Beirut,
…Mr Abboud laid into his own national carrier. “I agree. We need cheaper flights.” He was scathing about the incumbent airlines [Middle East Airlines and BMI], saying they charge “unacceptable” fares: “I really want Ryanair and easyJet to consider Lebanon. They’ll have the full backing from my ministry. I will make sure they have the rights to fly to Lebanon.”
And if tourists would like to package a Israel-Lebanon trip:
“We do not like to stamp a passport with a stamp to Israel, but there are ways around it. You can visit Israel and ask the Israeli authorities not to stamp your passport.” He recommends you ask officials to get the stamp on a separate piece of paper.
And while there are no direct links from Israel to Lebanon, Mr Abboud pragmatically explained that the two can be easily combined: “It’s a 20-minute flight from Tel Aviv to Cyprus, and another 20 minutes to Beirut, so it is not impossible. We are grown-ups. We do not want to punish people who decide to visit Israel. It’s not the end of the world.”
Tips from our own government on how to circumvent their own rules – priceless. Actually, it would cheaper to fly via Amman: