The Lebanese Cabinet approved few days ago a USD 20 million Saints Route project linking the villages in Batroun and Byblos governorates. The aim is “to link Batroun, Edde, Jran, Derya, Douk, Mayfouq, and Annaya, going through Saint Rafqa, Saint Hardini, Saint Estephan Nehme, and Saint Charbel convents” [Source] and was described by Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil as the most important religious tourism project in Lebanon.
Any project that ends up boosting tourism in Lebanon is more than welcome but I wish we were given further information regarding the “Saints Route” and how paving a new road that connects four different convents will attract further tourists. Moreover, are these convents ready to welcome more tourists and are there enough restaurants and resorts around them? Also do we really want to turn these places into popular touristic sites or preserve the serenity of the place? Also do we have any statistics regarding the number of tourists that visit these convents on a yearly basis? and whether they are mostly local or not? Why didn’t the Tourism Minister hold a press conference to explain all that or even comment on that project?
On another note, what happened to the planned Teleferique from Jbeil To Annaya? Isn’t it better to invest in a more eco-friendly solution that reduces pollution and promotes eco-tourism on the long run?