We are excited to present Nizar Hani, Director of the UNESCO Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon as the new President of the MEET Network. Nizar is a passionate conservationist, who has worked hard to preserve species such as wolves, striped hyenas, jungle cats, and caracal wild cats in his homeland while raising the profile of Shouf as an internationally recognized protected area and ecotourism destination.
D: Congratulations on your appointment, Nizar. Can you tell us what MEET means to you?
N: I envision MEET as the instrument that will manage to make a real difference in Mediterranean ecotourism standards, by bringing them to the next level. Since tourism remains a main driver for economy and employment in the Mediterranean, initiatives like MEET, that combine conservation with creating employment, will continue to be very necessary.
D: How do you think MEET can reach these goals?
N: We must ensure that conservation transcends the limited sphere of Ecology and expands to B2B business horizons, without compromising local natural and cultural resources. As the meeting point for Mediterranean protected areas, our association can help to build a strong community, that shares common values, and innovative methodologies, as we have done with the Local Ecotourism Cluster model and Ecological Footprint tool.
D: What are you most proud of regarding MEET´s achievements so far?
N: What really has impressed me is the enthusiasm shown by ecotourism partners, implementers, and designers of ecotourism packages as well as the international marketplace interested in our products. People who have worked in tourism for many years understand the importance of initiatives like ours.
D: What are your hopes for the future?
N: I would like to see both regional and international visitors enjoying and appreciating the genuine beauty of the Mediterranean landscape, while further inspiring local communities to support and work in favour of protecting their valuable natural heritage.