Title: Tourism in the Qadisha valley (Northern Lebanon): from holiness to conflicts of interests

Authors: Justine Pasquier

Addresses: Department of Geography, University of Saint-Joseph, Rue de Damas, BP 17-5208 Mar Mikhaël, Beirut 1104-2020, Lebanon; Laboratory EDYTEM-CNRS UMR 5204, University of Savoie, CISM, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac cedex, France

Abstract: The Qadisha valley and the Cedars of God Forest (mountainous areas in Northern Lebanon) were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998 for their cultural value. The rediscovery and re-appropriation of this 'holy' valley's religious heritage has led religious groups to examine ways of developing the area's tourism potential. Although this reflection has been underway since the 1990s, the results have so far been unsatisfactory for all the actors involved. This article examines how tourism in the holy Qadisha valley is structured and how the space is shared by the different actors responsible for managing the area. Particular attention is paid to the three main monasteries within the valley: Mar Lishaa, Saydet Qannubin and Mar Antonios Qozhaya. Based on an analysis of co-spatiality at different scales, this article re-examines the notion of religious tourism from the point of view of the Christian Maronites who live in these monasteries. Interview data and official documents were qualitatively analysed and combined, then mapped and plotted schematically in order to determine how the space is shared and to analyse the area's tourism dynamics.

Keywords: Qadisha valley; religious tourism; holiness; co-spatiality; tourism dynamics; UNESCO; monasteries; Christian Maronites; qualitative analysis; Lebanon; sacred sites; World Heritage Sites; cultural value.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2012.048991

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2012 Vol.2 No.2, pp.128 - 148

Published online: 16 Aug 2014 *

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