2m tourists ex­pected to visit Le­banon in 2018

Global Times - Weekend - - TRAVEL - Xin­hua

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.”

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