RESTART MED! Interviews Gilbert Moukheiber, an experienced entrepreneur in the sustainable tourism field
Gilbert Moukheiber, Managing Director of 33 North, has a demonstrated history of working in the adventure travel and tourism industry. 33 North has participated in RESTART MED! project as beneficiary of one of the subgrants in Lebanon. Today we are interviewing Gilbert to know more about the trends and challenges of sustainable tourism and the impact of RESTART MED! in their Lebanese destinations.
What is 33 North and what is your sustainable tourism project under RESTART MED!? (Describe your team/company and briefly explain what is the objective of your project)
33 North is an adventure tour operator based in Lebanon working on developing and promoting sustainable and adventure tourism in areas that are off the beaten tracks. We are known for developing tourism products targeting a niche of adventure travellers that are willing to push their boundaries and experience Lebanon in a different taste. We believe in tourism as a means for expanding economic opportunities while preserving our Heritage and Capital.
We are the founders and implementers of Boukaat Loubnan Trails (BLT), a long-distance trail crossing the Bekaa Valley through its Western and Eastern Mountain Ranges. Boukaat Loubnan Trails is the only long-distance trail covering the Western and the Anti Lebanon Mountains ranges.
Through Boukaat Loubnan Trails we aim at bringing support to communities that are off the beaten trails and away from mass tourism. We aim at creating linkages through this long distance trail promoting the Human, Natural, Cultural, Religious and Culinary Heritage of these areas. The Trail is divided to three long distance sections:
- The North Bekaa Trail
- The Anti Lebanon Mountain Range Trail
- The Mount Hermon Tour Trail
What do you think are the sustainable tourism challenges faced in Lebanon? How are you addressing these challenges?
Policies: lack of policies regulating the role of local outdoor guides and ecotour operators. As 33 North we are addressing these challenges through our involvement as founding members of USEIL Union of Sustainable and Ecotourism Institutions in Lebanon we are working on the modernisation of the current guides law to take into consideration the outdoor guides and ecotour operators.
Respecting the value chain: we live in a world where no value chain is being respected for who does what! In tourism mainly we witness bloggers and influencers playing the role of tour operators; local NGOs playing taking over the state role in leading development; local guides taking over the role of national inbound tour operators. We are addressing these challenges by meeting these stakeholders and trying to be aware of the role of everyone.
What is the impact of RESTART MED! in Lebanon?
Restart Med aims at energising the tourism industry in Lebanon through the creation of sustainable policies, developing tourism products, bringing together the public and the private stakeholders and promotion of sustainable good practices.
What is the long-lasting effect that your project has on its community?
Our project is helping to position new destinations on the tourism map, to bring support to marginalised areas of Lebanon, to showcase that adventure sustainable tourism can bring a positive impact to the communities, it can help in preserving the natural capital and to support the involved communities. Above all our project is a peace project calling for all Lebanese to go and discover areas that were never promoted. It brings interactions among the Lebanese communities and breaks all boundaries.
How do you see the future of your company and how will it evolve over time?
As founder of 33 North I see ourselves as a Destination Management Company promoting and leading groups to Boukaat Loubnan Trails. I see ourselves working with our local partners working on their capacity building and developing new tourism products.