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A new beginning to strengthen ties between
 Lebanon and the Czech  Republic

Platinum International sponsored the first ever Czech-Lebanon Friendship Week in Lebanon from March 10th - 15th. Seven
journalists from the Czech Republic enjoyed a five-day visit to Lebanon sponsored by the Prague and Lebanese branches of Platinum International. 

On Saturday March 10th, 2001, the journalists arrived in Beirut
early in the morning only to grab a few hours rest as the delegation
had a pre-ordained itinerary of sight-seeing, ministry visits, night-life excursions and luncheons with prominent individuals who have interests in the Czech Republic.

Platinum International combined the efforts of the Lebanese and Czech offices to plan and implement a fantastic week of fun - filled activity for the delegation of Czech journalists supported by Her Excellency Dr. Eva
Filipi Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Lebanon. The aim of Platinum International is to bridge the gap and understanding of the countries that may lead to commerce and friendship 

The journalists found themselves in the center of Beirut in the newly built

 
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Solidere area the morning of arrival.
However, the day was packed with adventure as they were scuttled off to see the ancient ruins of Byblos as well as the artistic Village of Rashana, which is the home of the sculptures of the renowned Basbous family.

The Platinum team hosted the journalists in their newly affiliated resort Sun City located in the mountains of Ajaltoun. The luxury resort is 10 minutes away from various ski resorts as well as 20 minutes from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Everyday excursions were planned in various historical sites of Lebanon. On Sunday March 11th the journalists were taken to Jeitta Grotto, the famous caves with beautiful stalactite formations, and then to a cable car ride at Teleferique of Lebanon to the Harissa Mountain where the Statue of the Lady of Lebanon welcomed the guests with open arms.

Platinum International hosted a Czech-Lebanese Businessman and Journalists Luncheon at the Teleferique Restaurant in Harissa where distinguished guests included Viviane Boulos-Tolan, major shareholder of Platinum International, Michael Tolan, CEO of Platinum International, Ivan Korcak, Economic and Commercial Counselor to Her Excellency Dr. Eva Filipi, Mr. and Mrs. Fouad Boulos, Founder of the Teleferique of Lebanon, Mr. Anwar Hajj, President of the foundation committee for the alumni from the Czech and Slovak Republic and Technical Supervisor of the Teleferique, Dr. Khalid Amsha, President of the Czech and Slovak Alumni Association, Dr. and Mrs. Faouzi Adaimi, President of the Syndicate of Hospitals in Lebanon, Mr. Mark Jechumtal area manager for CSA for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, and Mr. Nabil Tohme, CEO of Phora & Cie.
"The goal of this event is to strengthen the ties between the two nations and promote tourism into Lebanon," claimed Michael Tolan. 

Other historical excursions included a visit to the ancient ruins of Ba'albeck and a wine tasting visit at the caves of Kefraya. However, historical excursions were not the only visits on the agenda for the delegation. The staff of Platinum International organized a heavy morning of meetings with requested ministries for the delegation to question concerns they had pertaining to different aspects of the trend of reconstruction and growth within Lebanon.

One of the meetings of high interest for the delegation was that with the Minister of Tourism Dr. Karam Karam where he stressed the necessity to create bridges instead of borders between neighboring regions.

He also pledged to amend regulations so that Central and Eastern European nationals will have an easier time getting a visa into Lebanon.

He spoke of strengthening ties and building awareness of opportunities within the two nations.

The delegation also had the opportunity to attend a luncheon hosted by Her Excellency Dr. Eva Filipi. Platinum International received great help from Her Excellency in the planning of the Czech - Lebanon friendship Week. 

At Her Excellency's luncheon Viviane Boulos-Tolan stated that "This occasion is one in which we hope to continue in the coming years." She continued saying, "we are very pleased with how the week has been going and we are encouraged to continue working on increasing the positive awareness of the rebirth of Lebanon, which we hope will increase the country's tourist value." 

Platinum International's success will surely make the next delegation visit easier. "We want people outside to know that Lebanon has a lot of richness to offer and it is our aim to breakdown the negative stereotypes foreigners have about this beautiful country," expressed Michael Tolan.

Czech- Lebanese Friendship Week Inauguration in Czech Parliament

On the 8th of March, the newest Lebanese representative visited the House of Parliament of the Czech Republic and was asked to stay there, permanently.

The adopted representative was actually a Lebanese Cedar tree, presented by the Lebanese branch of the company Platinum International by CEO Mike Tolan, to the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Dr. Jiri Payne, in the presence of the Lebanese Ambassador to the Czech Republic, His Excellency, Mr. Zouhair Kazzaz.

This was the start of what was to be dubbed: The Czech-Lebanese friendship week. 

A delegation of Czech journalists then accepted an invitation to visit Lebanon. The delegation consisting of Czech Television crew, daily newspaper reporters, social and financial magazines were invited to be treated to a glimpse of Lebanese culture and sightseeing during their five day fact finding mission.

Twelve years before it was unthinkable for Czechs to look at potential new tourist or business frontiers, but now, the 10 million plus population is bursting with a spirit of adventure.

As the Czech Republic has become one of the most sought after vacation destinations boasting Prague, city of culture, Karlovy Vary and other famous spas towns within the new republic, so Czechs themselves are looking beyond their borders as well. "The exotic of the Orient is very attractive" says Dejana Drakulicova, Communications Director, Platinum Czech Republic. "Our clients will be amazed by Lebanon, it's a nice surprise!" she added.

Platinum International, having offices both in Beirut and Prague, organized the delegation to follow up their recent exhibition in Prague, entitled "Rediscover Lebanon" in which over 5,000 people visited their stand at a travel expo.

"Lebanon must reach out and strategically market itself as a new destination" says Viviane Boulos- Tolan, principal shareholder of the group.

"Our mission in this context is to create a bridge of understanding between the Czech Republic and Lebanon, particularly in the tourist elements available to each nation. A follow up of Journalist to Visit Prague is being planned for this summer." added Bassam Nakad , group Business Development Manager  

"Both nations are experiencing a Renaissance now which further gives us a mutual appreciation in human terms of struggling for higher possibilities and witnessing achievment." added Boulos-Tolan, "Its time to exploit that positively, that's why we also developed the Rediscover program for Lebanon and the Czech Republic." she added.

"We aim to vanquish old stereotypes from the past and renew them with fact finding missions like the Czech-Lebanese Friendship Week, to truly "REDISCOVER LEBANON", recanting the campaign slogan registered and promoted by Platinum International."

"Czech people are very warm souls, much like the Lebanese, who also treasure the family" added Boulos-Tolan, "and that makes for all the common ground we need to build a tourist and trade bridge so that
both parties win" she said. 'We have the sun the sea, the mountains and the spirit of hospitality, its time we got back on the tourist map. Our Travel agency 360TravelScape will also be promoting enhanced value tours to the Czech Republic" added Boulos-Tolan; "as we are also promoting this summer "Rediscover Czech Republic" for the Lebanese travelers.

The Czech press delegation will visit several ministries including Tourism, Transportation and Information and important sights of interest during their visit and is being hosted for a farewell luncheon by the her Excellency DR. Eva Filipi, Czech Ambassador to Lebanon.

Persons interested in the Czech Republic Friendship Initiative should contact Viviane Boulos-Tolan on 03- 32 32 18 or prague@rediscover.com