Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How come Turkish tourists don't come to Lebanon?

Two colleagues of mine came back from a road-trip they did last week to Turkey, they visited Antakia, Kapadokia, Iskandaroun and Mersin. So when I asked them how it was, they both replied: “it was.. nayce” Like the word nice barely kicked off from their mouth.

Anyway, we all know that Istanbul is a very nice place to visit, so is Mar Maris (for beach, night life and outdoors adventure lovers). So not all Turkey is “okay” like the above mentioned cities, and because they only went for 5 days so they had to be not far away from the borders.

Nevertheless, they said there weren’t much to do there, except for shopping, and at the end of the day all groups sort of end up going to the same places and doing the same thing for fun. Boat party (a lousy one apparently), and a cave party (traditional wedding, they said that one was cool), some shopping, leather catwalk (where they bought leather jackets, which I'm not so sure they were for good prices), etc...

However, one of my colleagues added something interesting while telling me about her trip, she said they ran into so many Lebanese, everywhere they go, they would see Lebanese people there, and all came with different tours.

Question: How come, Turkey has so many Lebanese tourists visiting it(now that visa is no longer required between both countries), but on the other hand, we don’t see that many Turkish tourists in Lebanon? I did not see any, did you?

Finally, I promise you to write a post where I tell you about how you can be a tourist in your own Lebanon (meanwhile check this page I did), everyone knows I am not the obsessed blinded patriotic person who keeps saying: “Lebanon is the most beautiful country in the world”, however, I know Tourism when I see it, and I can see the amount and diversity in activities that can be done in Lebanon and they can be spread over a month doing different things on a daily basis. #justsayin


  1. well maybe because:
    1- Turkey is much more beautiful than Lebanon
    2- The adv about Lebanon as a touristic place is not as strong as the campaign turkey do in Lebanon.
    The Lebanese Tourism campaign mainly targets Arab Countries. So i guess if they work on this point we might see more Turkish tourist in Lebanon....

  2. I would like to defer with Bahaa Fe: Nowhere is more beautiful than Lebanon.

    Also, that's another reason for me not to go to Turkey- why go to them when they don't come to us. My family is apparently originally Turkish but I can't see how when I feel like I'm Lebanese inside, out.

    Also, Turkey is close to Lebanon and probably cheaper to go to than most places for the Lebanese. Though I'd say let's not forget our history with Turkey- they were once invaders of our land and are SLOWLY coming back with their mosalsals and their "heroic" stands against Israel.

    Regardless though, a lot of people think of going to Egypt or Syria before Lebanon because simply they haven't heard of it - out of their own ignorance or because these countries have "famous" histories are known to be touristic. And also like pointed out above our ad campaigns target certain countries such as the Arab countries or France.

  3. Regarding the trip that your friends made, I've been to Turkey several times, and from my experience I can tell you that the cities and villages they visited are probably the lousiest places in Turkey. I actually feel irritated everytime I see an ad in newspapers promoting for the same tour for very little amount of money ($300 or so).

    As for the Turks visiting Lebanon, ino let's be honest, we are no match to them. Ok we do have some good sites, but they have much much much better places.
    Ruins w heik? They have some.
    Museums? They have dozens.
    Beaches? Here they're overpriced and you get treated like shit, there they can access beautiful sandy beaches for FREE.
    If I were a Turk, I would be willing to visit Lebanon just to see few specific places and taste the Lebanese food.

    Calling the Turks to visit Lebanon is like calling us the Lebanese to visit Jordan, you already know Jordan is somehow boring for us, and there's nothing there except Petra and the dead sea... it's a matter of 2-3 days w ya3tikeh il 3afyeh.

  4. I've only been to Istanbul and that's enough to see no reason for a Turk to visit Lebanon. That said, a Turkish friend of mine might be visiting soon, I'll let you know what her impressions of the country is.

  5. Rami, la2 I must disagree with you on that one. Overpriced here yes, there? Same thing!

    Beaches? What about Tyr? What about Shikka? And they're not overpriced, I agree tourists won't know all cheap places, but that's the same thing when we go anywhere. We have a lot of ruins. There can be many outdoor adventurous activities. The food the night life the restaurants we have are chapeau bas.

    We have many traditional outings we can go to in the mountains and nice villages. We have a couple of museums ok mish wow bass inno.. we have the south, tripoli, MANY ruins.. oh and nature (what's left of it, but we have many many nice places in which nature is still existent)

    Oh and of course we have nice shows and festivals during the summer (okay it doesnt beat their concerts but we get some cool stuff) no one can say Lebanon is not worth visiting, and Lebanon adde zghir bye7moul 7 to 10 days EASILY

    Come on man :P

    Raafat, please do :)

    Bahaa, I think the 2nd one is pretty true, we don't advertise the way they do here

    LebaneseMariam, lol at the heoric and turkish series invading us.. i've never watched one single episode so far.. el hamdellah

  6. I'm shocked at the comments. Gosh! another reason I will never go to Turkey lol...

    Guys, we have A LOT to do. It's just the Lebanese choose not to do them and don't look for them. Get a map out and start exploring- we have a lot to do. We have hidden ruins and hidden attractions. EXPLORE.

    My lord, when I come to Lebanon - I'll take you all with me! It's my mission in Lebanon to explore the MOST beautiful country on earth and see every last inch of it. It maybe a small country and all but we have so much to do in this little space.

    Liliane, I'm glad to hear you haven't watched any.. neither have I. I simply refuse.

  7. They are afraid from the Armenian in Lebanon!

  8. In all honesty, I find nothing appealing in Lebanon for someone to come and visit, and unless you know someone that will take you out of the city, there really isn't that much to do. And you can do everything within a week maybe.

    Besides, Lebanon is not really known for its natural beauty because the people destroy it.
    Our Ministry of Tourism should probably put pressure on the government to shape up and get them to decrease construction since it is really killing whatever natural appeal Lebanon has.

    Maybe then we might actually be considered as a vacation location rather than being the Gulf's destination for 'entertainment'.

  9. I agree with you,
    Ads on tv and newspapers to visit Turkey are all over the places, and i am sure the Lebanese ministry of tourism is not doing the same in turkey...
    that's the main problem, Turkish are not encouraged to come

  10. Maybe Turks are following us on Twitter... Enough reason not to visit :P

  11. Yasmine, 100%.. yes we are destroying the nature, the mountains, the old houses (i.e. Gemmayze houses) ya3ne shi bi bakke...

    I don't only blame turkish tourists for not visiting, I blame the government for not shaping up and preserving what we have and "improving" it.. instead they don't give a crap. It's all expensive hotels and as many of you "tfaddalto" and said, our target is mainly arabs and gulf lately and this is just wrong!

    But I still insist, there is a LOT to see in Lebanon, seriously a lot.

  12. Am not interested to go to turkey as well , in my opinion Lebanon is the best place in the MENA region and i am sure most of Lebanese did not discovered yet all the 10452km and feel bored. if i have to travel i will go to far east and Northern Europe.

  13. Interesting post.
    For someone who spent most of the last three years living in Istanbul, I've come to conclude the following:

    1- Most of the tourism happens domestically by virtue of the landscape and terrain of Turkey. People living in cosmopolitan areas tend to always take vacations on the Aegean because of the wonderful beaches.

    2- Lebanon does not target the Turkish population with its campaigns. Lebanon has nothing to offer Turks, anyway. Food, beaches, nightlife, liberty, sex tourism, skiing - these are all within reach on a bigger and more developed scale in Turkey.

    3- Turkish nationalism. Many conversations with Turkish friends end up with "why do I have to travel outside, we have everything in Turkey." In addition to the yet-present language barrier that most Turks face when abroad and the fact that in their minds, Lebanon is a small backwards state somewhere on the Syrian border.

    Again, these are observations that I found worth mentioning.

  14. Turkey's close, convenient, and cheaper than other places. Plus visa's not required. That's all.

    And how do you know there aren't many Turks visiting Leb? Do they look a certain way or smtg?! :P

  15. I'm not bashing Lebanon here, and I'm not claiming we have nothing. But we should be real, there are still many places that are worth visiting, and what is remaining of our nature is also worth visiting, bas is it a match to what's in Turkey?

    I've seen breathtaking nature scenes there, I remember when we were on our way to Alanya & Antalya, we passed by a pine forest adjacent to the sea, it was just amazing.

    Our problem here in Lebanon is that we're thinking ino allah khala2 libnein w kasar il jarra! It's so wrong, Lebanon is NOT the most beautiful country in the MENA region or in the world.

    Algeria, YES ALGERIA, you know the deserted Algeria, has in some of its villages more cedar trees than what have all over Lebanon!

    Again, I emphasize on the fact that I'm NOT bashing Lebanon, bas we SHOULD be real. We might have a good nature, so our ministry of tourism should make use of it, enhance it, create an experience for those who might end up visiting it, and then promote our sites in other countries. Still, we seriously cannot promote that in Turkey, it would be like selling bottled water beside a spring of potable water!

  16. This has already been mentioned by above comments, but I'd like to mention them anyway.
    I think those who say that Lebanon is the most beautiful country in the world have never been anywhere or else or are just making themselves feel better about everything else that sucks in this country. We do have some to offer, but there are countries that offer similar things and in better ways, Turkey being one of them. Why would the Turks come here when they can have the same and even better in their own country?
    There is a lot to see in Lebanon, but it's not promoted properly. I think if you do not already know someone in Lebanon, it'd be very hard for you to find the must-sees of the country. It's just a matter of deciding what part of what we have to offer it is we want to bring out to the rest of the world (cultural/historical? Sex tourism? Night life?), knowing who to target, and promoting it accordingly. This isn't currently being done, or at least not well enough.

  17. Rami... I think you're forgetting what makes Lebanon special.

    We are geographically close to Syria and Turkey, Jordan and Palestine... in each of these countries along with many countries in the world we share similarities. Even in Morocco and Tunisia- there are places you can mistake for Lebanon if you didn't know where it was. Rabna khala2 il-3alam kilo to be beautiful..

    but the idea is here that considering Lebanon's size - we are lucky. We can see it all in one day. In Turkey, you simply can't do that. In Turkey, they have more space to explore not more beautiful nature.

    Also, Lebanon offers MANY hidden jewels. I am sometimes shocked at the things I see and they are Lebanese 110% ... just stunning.

    Historically- we have all these cultures in one - no culture hasn't put its hand in Lebanon so imagine the differences and the similarities one can find in one place- in a town or city.

    More so, Beirut is a city like no other. Beirut is the most beautiful traumatized city. Imagine a city with so much trauma yet its so alive so full of hope. I see the trauma in every wall, in every corner but I see hope and faith in each of those too.

    We offer the best food ever! We may have taken food from the Turks - but we took it and improved it and there are other things- they don't have aslan to begin with- that's why internationally Lebanese cuisine is recognized.

    Lebanon is literally east meets west. It's the mess of the East and the glamour of the west and vice versa ... if you get what I mean. Turkey is only what it is today because for so long it wanted to be a part of Europe - nothing more or less.

    My dad has been to many parts of the world and he's not a crazy Lebanese fanatic like me :P but he always tells me: no where is as beautiful as Lebanon.

    I've never bought that Lebanon is the Switzerland or Paris of the East- if anything they are the Lebanon's of the West and even that is too much for these places. Turkey is the water bottle you talked about and Lebanon is the spring.

    I'm not bashing Turkey per se, I'm not a big fan though. They have lured us Arabs back into loving them. Let's focus on our country and bettering it and stop comparing it to Turkey whom has done nothing for us but literally invade our lives.

    I'm not Armenian and I'm not anti the Ottoman empire btw so I'm not some crazy anti-Turkey fanatic.

    Rami, I can't help but feel a little ghiri for Lebanon ma3inak Lebanese. it's like a non-Lebanese bashing a politician I dislike- ya waylon! I get rather defensive about this little heaven of ours.

    Anyway, allah yehmilna baladna w yihmi min el-hasad w yihmi sha3bo kaman.

  18. Mariam, I have two questions for you:
    1) have you been to Turkey?
    2) When was the last time you visited Lebanon? because I take it you're not a resident.

  19. wow, Lebanese Marriam your comments are longer than my post hehe, i like, thank you :)

    I agree with you on the short distance thing that Lebanon offers. Riham, yeah I think if we have a GOOD tourism guide, we improve things, we can get somewhere. Ma tinso turkey is huge.

    Samer, thanks a lot for your comment, it does clarify some things.

    Rami, true inno I agree Lebanon is NOT the most beautiful country in the world, i did say it up there, i just believe it has a lot of potential. And I wanted to see lei nihna rekdin la 3indoun, w hineh mish lekshinna.. I still think, even when they come, they WILL find it a nice place. I know french, canadians, australians, americans, british who love Lebanon, knowing that they have a lot in their own country, so why not turkish?

    Beirut Boy, lol I guess we see our tourists, and some look a way and others sound a way ;) there is also the language. Turks are known not to speak anything but turkish, it is a barrier for them as someone mentioned in this thread.

  20. I must add, I did go sailing in Turkey (Mar Maris), and the nature is wonderful (like wow - nature on the coastline is really something, and yes we don't have that in Lebanon except close to shikka), they offer a lot of water activities, which I am really surprised we still don't have anyone doing it in Lebanon yet.

  21. Samer,

    i don't want to go for the first question. It may be beautiful and i don't care for it. Ilwahid lazim yshof balado abil blad ghayro. Also, my father has been to turkey and still thinks Lebanon is more beautiful.

    I was in Lebanon two years ago and will be coming back to live and you can all join me in rediscovering Lebanon's hidden treasures

    I also live in Canada- which is honestly one of the most beautiful countries in the world- its simply stunning especially in the Western parts of Canada. And Canada has a lot of open space and nature so imagine how much beauty that is.

    Anyway, I've been to a few countries in my 21 years and I can still stay I think Lebanon is beautiful and offers what others don't. I'm just sad that the Lebanese are saying this before the tourists. tourists come to Lebanon and whole heartedly enjoy it with all its flaws and are willing to always come back.

  22. and np Liliane. I tend to have a lot to say when I'm passionate :P

  23. I wonder how many readers are aware of the historical/political/cultural reality of most southern territories in Turkey...

    Cilicia, Hatay (Alexandretta), DiyarBakir, Mardin, Mercin, Gaziantep, Batman, just to name a few...

    When we go to these places, are we really going to Turkey? No, not really. We might be under Turkish rule in those places, but the land, the people, the food, and everything else has more to do with us than with the Turks.

    This explains both facets of the issue...
    For the "Lebanese tourists", going to those places is just as comfortable as going to Aleppo, or to Damascus (of course, an extra push is provided by the fact that going to Turkey is currently "trendy").

    On the other hand, the Turks can go to Alexandretta or Antakya, and get most of what they get from a trip to Beirut: the "touristic feeling", the similar characteristics of the people in the said cities, and of course, they also get the feeling of being in a place they politically control.

    It's the same thing with Cyprus. Does anyone really think that a Turk would rather go to Southern Cyprus rather than go to Northern Cyprus?

    P.S: @ Mariam...
    I'm curious about something you said... Exactly what food have we "taken" from the Turks?

  24. Nael,

    Well I guess there is no historical evidence per se but things like lahm b 3ajine- being the exact term they use, wara2 3inab, knafe,ayran, among other things I can't really think of now lol...

    Anyway, as said before I can't prove it but it seems to be the only logical explanation as to why so many nations share these similar foods being that many were under ottoman rule and why Turkey might have these foods in the first place since they ruled us not the other way around. But hey, there are many foods we came up with and no one can beat us at that.

    Thanks for your post- seems like you yourself have gone and gave us an interesting way of looking at Turkey. Though you never did say if Lebanon is the way to go or not :P

  25. Nael :) thanks for your comment, explains a lot I guess. I always loved how you lay down your ideas so orderly!

  26. @ Mariam:

    The Greeks ruled us, did they teach their Alpha Beta?

    The Romans ruled us, did they teach how to make laws?

    The Moguls ruled us, did they teach us how to use numerals?

    Nope, it was the other way around, on all counts...
    As for the reason why that these foods share the same name in so many countries (not nations), well it's due to two things:
    1) It's simply what the dish is called.
    Sushi, for instance, is known as such in both the US and in Japan. Now given the fact that the US defeated and conquered Japan in World War 2, does that mean that the Americans came up with Sushi?
    Yes, "baba ghannouj" is a traditional dish in Alexandretta, but Alexandretta is not a Turkish city/region... Which brings us to the second point.

    2) I'm not sure what you mean by Turks, but I have a feeling you're including the inhabitants of the southern areas I mentioned above. I'll reiterate: These people are not Turks, and most of them take offence if you call them that.
    Of course, in order to reach a common understanding of the term "Turk", we would have to discuss the definition of the term "Nation" (you and I seem to define it differently), and what constitutes one, but this thread is hardly the place for that.

    Is Lebanon the way to go? I'll say this: If you don't appreciate your own wealth, there is no way to objectively assess whether others are richer than you. The thing is, with a Nation such as ours, it would take a lifetime of research to get a glimpse of what has been uncovered of our wealth... But hey, part of our wealth is the fact that we are so outgoing. So you shouldn't get annoyed if people want to explore elsewhere. It's the way it's always been, even tens of millennia ago. :)

    Liliane, you're very welcome... T'was my pleasure.
    And I always loved how you compliment me so. :P

  27. Nael .. you're right and I guess the way the transfer of culture and knowledge is an interesting thing to study. Some thing we'll never know where they started.

    And yes, while I understand what you meant by defining Turkey.. I hardly have enough knowledge of what is Turkey and what isn't. I only realized this is an issue when you mentioned it.

    Anyway, I'm not annoyed that the Lebanese like to explore... I'm just sad we are comparing it and putting it down for the sake of other nations bizat ini bghar 3a Libnan.

    Finally, once again thanks for sharing your knowledge.


  28. Dear Mariam,

    Yes, we'll never know how some things started, but in this particular instance, we can, and we do... But let's not dwell on that.

    Sadly, the concept of "Nation" is absent in most people's thinking. That's why everyone confuses Nations and States, and that's why we end up not knowing who we are, and ergo losing our sense of self.


  29. Because turkish people are nationalists... They were until the Gaza war not interested in the arab world, but now they love the arab world. They want to become one of us, but still remain turks. I personnally love alle arab countries, espacially Lebanon, Beirut. My wife is lebanese, and I am Moroccan, we have a house in Morocco, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. I just can have enough, we have really got a special culture. Just love it!

  30. I'm turkish and now I'm in Beirut. We love the arab world and we're already one of you by means of religion. We also love Europeans because we're one of them by means of lifestyle and relations between people. Culturally I feel this difference here.
    I loved the country there are beautiful places like in every country. The main reason for not coming to Lebanon is because going abroad is not very current given you can make a good vacation in Turkey for a cheaper price. Than we, at first, prefer to see France, UK or other countries.
    No need for any romantic approach to answer the question.

    1. Hello Anonymous, thanks for your comment. It definitely is a very old post. Glad you like Beirut. I completely understand that it is sometimes cheaper to do tourism in your own country (that was kind of the point of my own post). Now, I know for sure that even more Lebanese visit Turkey for vacation, and I know many who are in love with Istanbul.
      Thanks for the comment, and I hope you visit us more!

  31. it is so funny that i was searching current situation in Lebanon if it is ok for Turkish people to go there or not at the moment because of yesterday attacks and i found out this topic and ofcourse comments from Lebanese people. Guys, I do travel to Beirut a lot for my business. and i assure you that there are many Turkish tourist around. As i see that all comments very old then. I have many friends to go there during summer. Whoever i have spoken about their trip, they love this country! we do not afraid of Armenian people who lives in Beirut as we have many Armenian people in Turkey as well :))
    personally I feel at home whenever i go to Beirut. I never faced any problem because of my nationally there as even i have met with Armenian people. and i always share this info with our friends. I do tell them Lebanon is not like Saudi or other Arab countries as they are like us! European and same time middle eastern. plus I always find your food more beautiful then us. we have many common culture to explore. first of all there is no another country who drinks ARAK/RAKI in same way and Turkish people loves Raki as lebanese. just think about that. your country is favorite destination for turkey, a lot to do and enjoy.

    1. Hi Oz, thanks for the comment and for reviving this post. I actually know some Armenians who travel to Turkey, history is history and now life goes on in some aspects of it I guess. Glad you like Beirut and you feel at home. It's true that we have a lot in common, when it comes to vocabulary or food. I met some Turkish people when I was working in Dublin, and it proved that we definitely had a lot in common. When we still had tourists coming in, I did see more Turkish people visit us, but I still think the ratio is bigger on the Lebanese side visiting Turkey. More and more people go there, and they really like it.

      Glad you commented! :) thanks

  32. i met this blog coincidentally when i was searching information about beirut (where i am planning to visit this summer with my friends) but i really feel embarrassed. As a patriotic Turkish citizen, i prefer countries to visit without visas, so lebanoon is one of my dream destinations, people prefer to make their vacation in Turkey not because of their nationalistic view, but abroad tourism is not common among in Turkey, generally locals living in big cities prefer to go abroad and many prefer to visit europe. Not because "we have antakya, so i can feed my interest about levant!" seriously i felt in abroad when i have been in antakya (i live in a small city central anatolia so there is a cultural, lifestyle gap between southeast turkey with my city) but this is not main reason for less Turkish tourists in lebonaan. How lebonaan tourist prefer to visit Turkey because it is "trendy" so some turkish citizens prefer to visit "Europe" is the same reason.

  33. I am Turkish and always wanted to visit Beirut since my childhood. The main reason I was not able to do that I was not sure if the political situation is stable for me to consider Lebanon safe. Turkish and international media doesn't write about Lebanon much, so I often have an impression that it might not be the best destination.

    I am currently living in United States and some of my best friends are Lebanese. We share so much in common in terms of lifestyle and culture and I often feel home when I am with Lebanese. Still wishing to be able to visit Beirut one day.

  34. lebannese mariem, on this page you were the only person speaking ill of Turkey, you are talking about history and yet you know nothing about it, turkish are invaders, please spare back in hundreds years ago that goes for any other country as well either take over or be taken, as turkish person i love lebanese people or any other arabic people, i am in canada when people ask me where am i from i tell them from middle east, more then thousands of years truks and arabs interact with each other, actuall 90 percent we look a like, you shouldnt be making any racist comments, plus you dont even know anything about turkey i assume, let me tell you after ottaman empire collapsed, masonic people(ataturk) had took control over turkey and people dealing with them until erdogan, they?(masonic) changed all the history from history books everything rewritten and they showed arabic people are bad, they tricked everybody but now people start to learn real history what happened exactly and i am one of them believe me. even turks invaded your country i am pretty sure we didnt leave deep scars as much as english and french did as soon ottoman empire was gone they invaded your country and that was only less then 90 years ago ottoman empire invaded more then 500 years ago, if ottaman was very bad you should be all muslims now but yet they never forced anybody to change their religion otherwise there shouldnt be any chirstians in your country, i know you guys like armenians because they are also ortdx chris. any i hope your hatred toward us will be fade away, even you hate us we still love you, this past 100 year peoples face was looking europe and amreica but that start changing now another thing is people from villages are poor even many from cities dont think people have chance for trips very hard 80 percent of people probaply didnt even leave turkey once please dont judge turkish people as bad, best regards

    1. I would like to thank you for your kind words, and for being understanding and thoughtful of both Lebanon's and Turkey's present and past situations and the effect they had on shaping our people's mentalities. I would also like to shed some light on the different perspectives Lebanese people have regarding turkey. First off for me personally I consider Turkey to be part of my ancestral heritage, that being because even though I am a Lebanese citizen, my great grand father served in the ottoman army, around the time of WW1. But I digress, you see in Lebanon, it is taught in some schools that the Ottoman Empire was a conquering and savage state that oppressed the Lebanese people now even though I don't want to discuss the historical accuracy of those claims (it would take a life time), it is fair to say that not all Lebanese people share that dissent and hate. I would also like to add that there are some Lebanese that actually pride themselves as once being under Ottoman rule (couple of my friends, family members and I being some of them). Over and above there are about 80,000 Lebanese Turks in Lebanon (Mostly in the north and Bekkaa valley) and another 80,000 or so Lebanese Kurds(mostly in Beirut, mainly Burj Abu haidar and Zekak El Blat) alot of whome carry turkish nationality. Politically speaking in the past three years or so there has been an increase in the amount of people (many of whom are turkish) being politicaly active or aware in Lebanon (can be seen in the celebrations that happened when AK Parti won the last elections).And as such there is no denying that there exists a huge portion of Lebanese people that respect and love Turkey.