The first gay familiarization tour of Lebanon has arrived
San Francisco, Barcelona, Sydney and … Beirut? As surprising as it sounds, the buzz is building around Beirut, Lebanon, as a gay destination.
The New York Times dubbed Lebanon's capital "the Provincetown of the Middle East" in a 2009 article and the winter 2010 edition of Netherlands-based Winq magazine devoted eight pages to the city, citing its emergence as "the (gay) party capital of the Middle East."
Bertho Makso, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) ambassador to Lebanon, is coordinating the first familiarization tour and symposium to Lebanon for travel professionals who work in the gay and lesbian market.
"Lebanon is a very liberal country. Once you're here, you'll be surprised," said Makso, who is based in Beirut. "It's a county rich in attractions to appeal to LGBT travelers. Beirut is like nowhere else!"
Set for Oct. 13 to 18, the Beirut-based trip will not only tour the capital and check out its gay nightlife, but also take participants to famous historic sites throughout the country. Highlights include the Roman ruins of Baalbek, the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos, the beaches of Jounieh and the underground caverns of Jeita.
Also on the itinerary: the picturesque village of Deir El Qamar with its red-tiled roofs and the neighboring Beiteddine Palace, an architectural marvel dating to 1788 that now serves as the presidential summer palace.
The educational symposium is an afternoon event with the unique opportunity to meet the diverse LGBT Arabian communities, including activists and representatives from around the region. A post-trip extension to Syria will be offered.
To learn more about this trip, visit the Beirut 2010 Web site.
IGLTA is a leading global organization dedicated to connecting businesses in the LGBT tourism industry. The association spans more than 70 countries and consists of accommodations, airlines, tour operators, travel agents, destinations, media and other key players in the tourism industry.