STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT: LEBANON
THE PROJECT GOALS
Expand economic opportunities in rural Lebanon, preserving its livability and charm while enhancing the wellbeing of its people.
Establish supply chain connections and develop sustainable tourism.
Promotion kits published, including a recurring periodical:
Village workshops and stakeholder forums delivered
Non Governmental Organizations initiated, supporting destination development and crafts sector:
Architree E-commerce and Beyond Beirut NGO
Skilled Hospitality and Tourism Workers Trained in three years.
Lebanon is a country of rare natural and cultural beauty. Previously, it was known as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Yet Lebanon’s tourism industry has suffered. In the 1970s, the country began to face challenges of unrest, crippled with security issues and travel bans. Rural areas became underserved and more isolated, forcing the young population to migrate to urban areas. The cultural identity of rural communities began to get lost and forgotten. Urban areas became dense and lacked resources and infrastructure to serve the unplanned overpopulation.
Expats and Diaspora represent at least three times the resident population of Lebanon. Their remittances helped economic resilience. They were an untapped source of tourism and economic growth. USAID and the Word Bank identified areas of intervention to support these connections, provide strategies and supervise implementation of development projects.
Across projects, the top challenges were to:
Alleviate rural poverty by expanding tourism dollars to marginalized communities.
Involve youth and women in rural areas by building their capacity to serve ecotourism projects.
Enhance the image of Lebanon as a tourist destination to match modern travelers’ expectations.
New partnership efforts and promotional campaigns led to creating 13 new tourism products under the categories of nature and culture tourism. Connections were established among stakeholders, leading to expanding marketing initiatives. A Tourism Inter-ministerial action plan was developed to advise on the potentials for tourism as a sector for equitable economic growth. Domestic and Diaspora tourism reached remote regions and international niche tourism market arrivals increased.
Innovative promotion tools and campaigns led to the creation of new domestic tourism trends and to the emergence of new sustainable tourism dialogs among tourism stakeholders. As people began to share their finds of hidden gems and engage in nature activities, customer generated promotions were leveraged. Local rural businesses offering
Entrepreneurs offering responsible travel in rural Lebanon were represented at the Lebanon National Pavilion in WTM-London UK, ATM-Dubai UAE and NYIGF New York. Inbound tour operators included specific authentic components to their offer, generating income for women and youth as hosts and local guides. Nature reserves have become part of the national tourism promotion campaigns. A capacity building network established with master trainers reaches all Lebanon.
The National Lebanon Mountain Trail was developed with local partners, offering services and accommodation, attracting hikers worldwide. The new tourism supply chain is well mapped, and connected, including small and micro enterprises. Lebanon Traveler quarterly magazine was initiated to promote domestic tourism and highlight rural SMEs now adopted by the private sector and supported by the Ministry of Tourism.
DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT: COSTA RICA
THE PROJECT GOALS
Support local communities to develop sustainable tourism initiatives and strengthen global connections.
Leverage the natural assets of the region, preserving water sheds (rivers) and wildlife of the Biological Corridor as important reserve and passage ways for local and migrating birds.
Tripled the number of home stays in the region by developing a directory of home stays in the region
Developed a directory of local micro-size businesses and attractions and advised on product development
Organized village workshop to develop a collective vision and a more unified economic entity
Secured $35k+ for connection initiative from the Canadian Government and Academic institution to connect SMEs to the relative supply chain
Initiated connections between local communities, agriculture cooperative, municipalities and national universities
Advised on destination image, marketing and promotion
Developed strategies and implemented specific activities leading to conflict resolution between competitors and a stronger, collaborative community
Costa Rica, like most countries of Latin America, has vital natural resources and is attractive to corporate investments. One unique feature of Costa Rica is its well-developed ecotourism sector, that includes widely spread community-based tourism. However many services lack the connection with the market, and have no comparative value proposition to compete with specific major destinations in the country. Still each region has unique features and
value proposition to offer to specific niche markets. The value proposition and the niche markets needed to be identified and matched with demand; in a way to create channels and bring-in enough tourism traffic for local businesses to grow sustainably.
The threats and the challenges can be stated as:
-Hydro-electric dams and pesticide-dependent agriculture. offered overwhelming economic development projects; if approved these projects would endanger local livelihood and exhaust and damage natural resources irreversibly.
-Local political conflicts among community groups arise
-Lack of connections between producers and markets.
-Local tourism offering is minimal and based on scattered individual initiatives.
Started as an academic research, and developed into an economic development project that attracted funds from SSHRC the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The project aimed to:
Scale up the community’s tourism-related micro and small businesses through product, market and linkages development.
Initiate a destination development collective venture.
Create a platform for communities to come together and overcome local politics.
Based on research findings, a Connection Grant from SSHRC (the Social Siences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) led to a collaborative intervention between academic institutions and stakeholders. More responsible travelers are visiting and spending locally, as hotels and tour operators provide tours and suggest itineraries and connections for domestic business travelers to visit the area. The grant supported a three days connection forum that was a organized to discuss strategic goals, along with a series of village workshop to recruit and engage the communities.
In result of the connection initiative, the local community and stakeholders initiated a vision for their area as a sustainable destination; and they agreed on a set of recommendations to pursue the development of their region as a destination. Connections with supply chain were established and partnerships between private and public sectors were initiated.
Promotional materials were published, listing the offers of rural entrepreneurs. The stakeholders visited the potential sites and experienced first hand how they can develop tours or recommend visits. The active women’s associations who were competing have worked together with one goal. Entrepreneurs generated further income, expanded their offers, and are better connected and working as a network.
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: CANADA
THE PROJECT GOALS
Empower entrepreneurs, connecting them to their relative industries and training them on how to develop smart lean small and medium businesses.
Develop specific training programs using our expertise in supply chain mapping and strategy development, and considering target groups needs:
Assist the Canadian government to settle Syrian Refugees in the Metropolitan Toronto Area through workforce development training.
Provide capacity building for women to develop their ideas into business plans, allowing them to contribute to the betterment of their communities.
Developed in 3 years
Developed business plans
Developed new career goals
Trainers & facilitators engaged
Registered new businesses
Engaged in local commercial development
A- NEWCOMER REFUGEES
When Canada accepted 25,000 Syrian refugees between 2015 and 2016, the Canadian and Ontario governments required immediate help in assisting Syrian refugee entrepreneurs.
Programs were needed for these entrepreneurs to successfully set up and develop small and medium enterprises in the Greater Toronto Area. The Syrians in particular have entrepreneurial skills; however, those skills are not necessarily transferable. Therefore, as new comersthey risk becoming a liability and be dependent on social welfare. Settlement agencies felt the need to intervene and Wafaa was ready to take part of this venture bringing her expertise working with SMEs and economic development project as well as her knowledge of the Syrian culture and language skills.
The project aimed to:
Provide raining on starting an enterprise in the Canadian business environment.
Develop a curriculum and bring in experts to deliver training in both English and Arabic languages.
Enable participants to develop their ideas into business plans and to build their capacities to pitch their ideas to potential investors and partners.
In collaboration with ACCESS Employment and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Local2Global Solutions was contracted to lead a collaborative bilingual initiative to establish Arabic and English training seminars. This first ever in Canada program to offer targeted assistance for entrepreneurs in both English and Arabic language.
B- THE WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
In East Toronto, some new developments and gentrification (upgrading of real estate) are presenting a challenging change in the demographic dynamics.Women approached the local community center with ideas for new businesses.
They wanted to contribute to the betterment of their communities. They lacked skills and knowledge to access the Business environment
The project offered need assistance for training participants to develop their ideas into business plans and to be capable of sharing and pitching their ideas. It was developed in partnership with a local community centrein East Toronto, Ontario: The Vicotria Park Hub, Working Women Community Center, the Flock Program sponsored by United Ways. It
The project aimed to:
Build group capacity to develop their ideas into business plans and pitch it to investors.
Develop linkages and networking among the group and with potential partners and supporters.
Advise individuals on their business plans and answer their specific needs.