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Thinking outside the box

The hospitality sector is relying on innovative ways to attract customers

by Nabila Rahhal

By definition, the hospitality sector is reliant on the presence of tourists, and therefore reliant on peace and stability. It is no wonder then that Lebanon’s hospitality industry, in both its hotels and food and beverage divisions, has been only limping along for the past few years.

Yet, ever the entrepreneurs, those in Lebanon’s hospitality sector have developed coping strategies not only to survive in unfavorable conditions, but even to flourish. In the food and beverage sector, while there may not be many luxurious, high end venues performing well, smaller projects — from neighborhood bars to cozy bistros to nargileh houses — are witnessing growth, and many more such projects are in the pipeline for 2015. Lebanese hoteliers have also developed alternative approaches to make up for the loss of tourists from the Gulf. They are relying instead on local tourism from Lebanese living here who simply want to discover more of their country and enjoy a weekend away from home.

Hotels are also hosting European expats working in the Gulf or those who come to Lebanon to work with Syrian refugees.

Operators in the hospitality sector have come to accept that rich tourists won’t be rushing to Beirut any time soon and that local purchasing power is weak, but they are not giving up just yet. They are gearing themselves up for further growth, both locally and abroad, but with a new framework in mind.

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Nabila Rahhal

Nabila is Executive's hospitality, tourism and retail editor. She also covers other topics she's interested in such as education and mental health. Prior to joining Executive, she worked as a teacher for eight years in Beirut. Nabila holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from the American University of Beirut. Send mail

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