December had been a special month in the City of Saida. The city council and the Tourism Table have been launching one of the actions the strategic study on tourism promotion using the new branding image of the city in the framework of the second phase of the COHESIMED project funded by Barcelona Municipality. The strategic action had two main pillars: Some promotional events for Lebanese tourism stakeholders and the general public and a provisional municipal tourism office near Sea Castle, one of the main touristic attractions of the city.

During the 18th and 19th December weekend, the municipal project team prepared a set of activities to attract tourism actors and visitors to the city and show its touristic potential. On Saturday 18th they organised a concert with the local singers Jean & Albertino in Khan el Frank, a fantastic monument linked to the traditional fishing industry. Despite the limitation of 100 attendees due to COVID restrictions, the event was fully documented, a promotional video was done using the event, and it was shared live on Instagram by many of the assistants. At the end of the concert, they invited the assistants to do a tour through the Old City and discover the incredible monuments of Old Saida. On Sunday 19th it was the turn for families, followed by Sara Assi, a Lebanese food influencer. The event was held in Outreach and Leadership Academy (OLA), an 18th-century palace in Saida, inviting Sidonian families to spend the day doing some children’s activities with a Santa Claus. At the end of the event, one of the guides trained by the project’s first phase offered a touristic tour to show the Old City of Saida. Sara Assi reached an average of 15000 views per story post, and she shared 14 posts on her stories, so the views have reached more than 200.000 people. A video of each event was produced, and they will use them to promote the city on the website www.visitsaida.com.

Finally, on December 25th, a pilot tourism office was opened to the public near Sea Castle, upgrading a former maritime container. The office was set up as a pilot project to develop an operation plan so that the office could be self-sustainable as well as a valuable service for the Municipality and the Tourism Table stakeholders (gathering information, offering tourism services, promoting longer stays in Saida, etc.). Some promotional materials, such as tote bags, coasters and postcards, with the branding printed on them, had been provided to the pilot office. 

The strategic study, the engagement of actors thorough the tourism table and the implementation of pilot actions during 2021 has been a real success, giving a push to tourism in Saida despite the enormous difficulties confronted the by city and the country. As an example, there has been a continuously increasing demand for services of local tourist guides, trained by the project. 6000 of living heritage of the city are a unique asset to support socio-economic development.

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