Hotel room rates
drop by 20 percent
Most clients are not paying ‘fresh’ funds
Hotel room rates have declined by 20 percent on average when converted into ‘fresh’ dollars compared with pre-crisis levels in 2019, and doubled when paid in lira, according to a survey carried out by InfoPro Research in administrative Beirut.
Many prime hotels remain closed such as Phoenicia, Le Gray, Monroe, and others. Those that are still open have reported very low occupancy rates, in spite the drop in rates.
Hotels prefer fresh dollars but their customers prefer to pay in lira. More than 85 percent of the clients on average were paying in lira either in cash or through local payment cards, according to the InfoPro survey. Tourists often exchange their foreign currencies at foreign exchange counters in order to pay in lira, so do local and Arab clients.
Pierre Achkar, Chairman of the Syndicate of Tourism Organizations, said that foreign non-Arab hotel customers these days mainly consist of representatives of NGOs and international organizations such as the UNDP and the World Bank in addition to people on business trips such as representatives of companies that sell their products in Lebanon through local distributors. He said that there are a few Arab tourists mostly from Iraq in addition to some Jordanians and Egyptians.
Almost half of surveyed hotels don’t accept payments in local dollars (lollars), when paid by checks or payment cards drawn on pre-October 17 dollar deposits accounts in Lebanese banks.
Some business travelers, mostly NGOs, are paying in fresh dollars or by international payment cards. Hotels offer them discounts on the room rate when paid in fresh dollars. Foreign tourists who book online usually pay in dollars through payment cards.
Hotels have by law to charge their customers in lira. Achkar said that the government has turned down the request of hotel owners to charge their customers in fresh dollars so clients convert their currency and pay in lira.
According to Achkar, an improvement in tourism and hotel occupancy is not likely before the summer of 2021.
“The tourism sector suffers a chronic problem. Despite the fact that Lebanon has become relatively cheaper, it is unlikely to see a boom in tourism soon due to the political instability and the negative attitude of some factions towards Gulf countries,” he said.
Date Posted: Dec 11, 2020