VAT tax returns rise over 51 pct in September
Increase in reimbursement attributed to rise in tourists from Gulf
BEIRUT: VAT tax returns registered an increase of 51.39 percent in the first 12 days of September, reflecting a surge in the number of Arab Gulf tourists who purchased items from Lebanon.
The managing director of Global Blue, the company which was designated by the Finance Ministry to reimburse the value added tax purchases to tourists in Lebanon, said the consumer tax return in the first 12 days of September 2017 jumped by 51.39 percent, adding that the bulk of the tourists reimbursed were from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
Joe Yaqoub said these statistics were the highest recorded in Lebanon over the past three years.
Talking to the Central News Agency, Yaqoub said most of these visitors came to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha.
“In light of these statistics, I expect that the number of Arab tourists till the end of September to rise substantially. Most of those who purchased clothes and garments from Lebanon are from the Gulf states. This illustrates the projection of the tourism minister that the number of tourists to Lebanon would be close to 2 million,” he added.
The last time Lebanon saw such a significant surge in the number of Arab tourists were in 2009 and 2010.
Yaqoub said Arab tourists in 2010 generated revenues of over $7 billion for the tourism sector.
Only tourists are reimbursed the VAT on purchases in Lebanon in a bid to boost the tourism industry.
Lebanese officials hope that the political and security stability would lure back the Arab tourists to Lebanon after years of boycott.
‘I expect the number of Arab tourists ... to rise substantially’
Lebanon has passed a bill to increase VAT taxes from 10 to 11 percent as part of efforts to finance the salary scale for civil servants and public school teachers.
But the implementation of the new tax package was suspended by the Constitutional Council after a number of lawmakers sent a letter to the council, urging it to freeze the taxes which they described as unfair.
The council is expected to issue its final verdict on these taxes on Sept. 15. –