The reputation of Tannourine as a rural tourism destination for rock climbing has been established through the completion of a USAID grant, the first of its kind in Lebanon, and in terms of rock climbing for development, it seems to be a world first.
RAD has built 177 pitches in a rural village where nobody had thought to sport climb. This project has breathed new life into the village of Tannourine. Although it is a beautiful village and has always been popular as a summertime lunch spot – it has never been known for outdoor sports. It is now the prime spot in the country for rock climbing and has visitors from early spring to late autumn, extending the tourist season.
The potential for making rock climbing in Tannourine has become a reality through this grant. The climbing park features a good variety of quality climbs of different abilities in a beautiful natural setting. The climbs are enjoyed by locals, day drippers and weekend visitors from Beirut. Every weekend there are multiple parties (10 to 15 cars) of Lebanese and expatriate climbers on the routes established by RAD. The range of difficulty of routes ensures that there are beginner and intermediate routes available for this level of sports ability.
Route developer Will Nazarian’s speciality is for expert routes, which have attracted international visitors from the region (Dubai, Jordan) and from Europe and the US. Visiting climbers are using the climbing park built with this grant and bringing business to Tannourine stores, guest houses and restaurants.
RAD has also hosted high-profile international professional climbers to visit, bolt, climb and film promotional videos about Tannourine. The quality of the routes, as well as the range of difficulty to include professional climber grade is essential to maintain the reputation of the climbing park.
Local businesses including guesthouses, local stores and restaurants have benefitted from this grant. In addition the project supported the development of climbing guide companies. Certain services (a public toilet and handwashing facility) remain pending and the municipality is planning to further develop the site as an Eco-tourism centre.
The youth of the village were surprised why visitors want to come to stay in Tannourine, and the fact that people now come from all over the world to climb there has given a great sense of pride to the village.