I found out about TourTwist during my Leo Burnett days and I immediately fell in love with the idea. Of course, I also knew how challenging it was going to be for Pierre Daher, its founder and my good friend.
The idea is basically scouting out locals from Lebanon’s 1600 villages and towns that are willing and knowledgeable enough to show tourists, both local and foreign, around their hometowns. It’s all about giving them an authentic experience, a real feel of what that particular town has to offer away from the often trodden path of pullmans, loud tourists and cheap restaurants.
Personally, I travel a lot, whenever I get the chance to. In my travels, I absolutely despise going to the touristy stuff, and often make a point to finish them all off in one day or less, just so I can say “yeah I went to the Golden Gate Bridge” for example. What I truly adore, is living like a local. This means eating like one, getting around like one, going to the events a local would probably fancy, etc.
That, is exactly what TourTwist is all about. It’s about you going to a village, being welcomed by one of its sons or daughters, and shown a hella good time be it when it comes to cultural significance, heritage, archeology, natural wonders, gastronomy, art, etc.
I for one signed up to be a guide of my beloved hometown of Zgharta-Ehden. It’s a true pleasure for me to have guests over, and show them what is, in my completely honest opinion, the best place this Earth has ever seen. The food, the history, the religiously significant sites, the archeological discoveries, the UN World-Heritage natural wonders, the Reserve, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what I’d want to show my tourists.
Of course, I won’t be able to do that much seeing how I have relocated abroad. But, think of the people who still live in your town, who have no means to make a decent living except by venturing into cities at least a few days a week. TourTwist grants the opportunity for locals and local businesses to make some money and bring that village back to life. It’s also amazing because I’ve lived in Lebanon for 17 years of my life, and I doubt I’ve even begun crossing off all 1600 Lebanese villages from my to-do list (although I’ve been around thanks to spontaneous roadtrips and scouts!)
Everyone’s a winner here, and this idea is one I believe in deeply and am rooting for like crazy. So, sign up as a guide if you think your town’s cool enough, if not, refer that business your aunt has, a restaurant or artisanal shop. If not, at least share a bit of information few other people might know thanks to your unique insight into a town or village in Lebanon. Plus, let’s get folks out of Beirut a little (at least we’ll have less traffic!)
Check it out here.
Here’s how you sign up and some examples of the stuff you’ll be doing and places you’ll be seeing!