The village of Douma has been named among the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2023.

As the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced, the Best Tourism Villages 2023 list recognizes the villages leading in “nurturing rural areas and preserving landscapes, cultural diversity, local values, and culinary traditions.”

Launched in 2021, the villages are evaluated based on nine key features, including Cultural and Natural Resources, Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources, Economic Sustainability, Social Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Tourism Development and Value Chain Integration, Governance and Prioritization of Tourism, Infrastructure and Connectivity, and Health, Safety, and Security.

Check Rana Tanissa (LebanonUntravelled manager) interview on BBC:

Douma, Lebanon 

Traditional stone houses with red-tiled roofs, views of the surrounding Batroun Mountains, centuries-old churches and a recently restored souk: the village of Douma, located about 80km north-east of Beirut, is nothing if not picturesque. 

“My first impression was the beauty of the village,” said Rana Tanissa, a Lebanese archaeologist and rural tourism consultant who writes about travel to Lebanon, recalling her first visit to the town. “And the history of the village is incredible – one feels as if you’re entering a history book.” 

In fact, according to the UNWTO, Douma’s commitment to preserving its architectural and cultural heritage and “avoiding chaotic urban expansion” played a major role in its selection to the 2023 list. 

The UNWTO notes that Douma has protected other aspects of its cultural heritage, too, such as its local food traditions. According to Tanissa, the “Raha sweet”, made with biscuits, is one favourite, as are the town’s zaatar, olive oil, cheeses and jams. Many of the ingredients come from local farms and vineyards. That said, Douma isn’t just about tradition: the village has undertaken a number of new green initiatives, too, including using 600 solar panels to generate electricity for the village, planting trees and encouraging composting. 

But more than its beauty, cultural heritage, food or even sustainability, Tanissa says. There’s another quality that immediately struck her about the village: the kindness of its people. “They have warm hearts. They are generous. They help and serve,” she said. “For example, if someone asks for information, not only will they help [them], but they’ll guide [them] throughout the village.” 

To make the most of a stay in Douma (and get to know locals), Tanissa advises staying in one of the village’s guest houses, where local families make traditional food from the region.

To read BBC full article, click here.