Lebanese Tourism Minister Walid Nassar unveiled a new slogan to promote tourism in the country, highlighting the “insane side” of Lebanon, in its positive and negative facets.
“This will be our touristic identity that the world will see,” he declared at the press conference on November 4th where he unveiled the slogan aiming to attract tourists.
The tourism industry has always been important to the Lebanese economy, but it has gone in decline at an alarming rate in the past two years. In 2018, 2 million tourists visited the country, compared to a few hundred in 2020, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Amidst an unprecedented economic collapse described by the World Bank as one of the worst since the mid-1850s and in a social context that reminds the pre-civil war, the Tourism Minister wants to focus on the “extreme” side of the country.
Walid Kanaan, head of the Dubai-based advertising company TBWA that developed the slogan, explained: “This is our country, a crazy country… crazy in its nightlife, crazy in its food and generosity. And no matter how crazy the situation in Lebanon is, we can only say “we love you in your madness.”
The slogan is inspired by the famous song of the Lebanese icon Fairouz “bhebak ya Lubnan” (I love you, Lebanon) released in 1973, where she declared her love for Lebanon, before the civil war (1975-1990).
The slogan will be painted on Middle East Airlines planes, the Lebanese national carrier, as well as used in social media campaigns, Kanaan stated.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati reacted to it negatively. “Lebanon is not mad, maybe the way it was managed led to that,” he argued.
The new slogan sparked backlash on social media too, considering it inadequate regarding the tough economic situation that forces Lebanese to move abroad for better opportunities.