2m tourists expected to visit Lebanon in 2018
Caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian said on November 29 that the total number of tourists to Lebanon will reach 2 million by the end of this year despite the complicated political situation and the absence of government in the country.
Guidanian told the Xinhua News Agency in an exclusive interview that the number of tourists from Europe so far hiked by 30 percent compared with that of 2010, the year witnessing the tourist arrival peak in Lebanon at 2.17 million.
He also noted that tourists from the US and Latin America soared by 45 percent while those from Arab countries and the Gulf dropped by 40 percent compared with 2010.
“In total, the number of tourists by the end of 2018 will be around 10 percent lower than that of 2010, approximately 2 million,” he said.
Pierre Ashkar, president of the Syndicate of Hotel Owners in Lebanon, previously told Xinhua that Gulf tourists used to make up 60 percent of total visitors to Lebanon, while now they constitute 4 percent only.
“Gulf tourists are the ones who spend money the most in Lebanon compared with other nationalities,” he added. “They also stay longer than tourists with other nationalities who visit Lebanon for only two or three days.”
Guidanian said that Gulf countries have not removed the travel ban on Lebanon yet, but the country is still witnessing the arrival of tourists from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In November 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait warned their citizens against traveling to Lebanon due to a LebaneseSaudi crisis caused by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s controversial resignation in Riyadh which he rescinded soon after.
However, Gulf officials vowed to remove the travel warning once the government in Lebanon is formed.
“If Lebanese officials succeed in forming a government, we will continue to have good tourism results in 2019,” Guidanian said. “But if we fail, we will miss a lot of opportunities like unable to take part in exhibitions to promote the country.”