Lebanon Businessnews News

Tax free spending
up by seven percent
Trend is back towards leisure
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Tax free spending increased by 6.5 percent last year compared to 2017, according to Global Blue’s report: ‘Globe Shopper Spending Insights YTD – January to December 2018’. The report accounts for VAT refunds at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport and other borders.

Tax free spending grew 5.5 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

“In mid-2017, tourist tax free spending started to increase. This coincided with the end of the military campaign on the Eastern borders. Tourists are more concerned about security rather than the economic situation,” said Joe Yaccoub, Managing Director of Global Blue Lebanon.

The spending trend is going more towards leisure, and an increase in the tourists’ tax free spending is witnessed, according to Yaccoub.

Syrian tourist’s tax free spending increased 65 percent, Qatari’s by 61 percent, Egyptian’s by 26 percent, Kuwaiti’s by 14 percent, and US tourist spending increased by seven percent. “Syrians, Qataris, Kuwaitis, and Egyptians are coming and spending more frequently than before,” Yaccoub said.

Saudi Arabian spending dropped 15 percent last year, compared to 2017.

Saudi tourists represented 12 percent of the total number of spenders, followed by Syrians (11 percent), and Emiratis (ten percent). “Lebanon is becoming a shopping destination for Syrians, especially because their country after the war has shortage in a lot of global brands,” Yaccoub said.

The number of refund transaction increased by six percent last year. It increased by 47 percent among Syrians, 27 percent among Egyptians, and 22 percent among Qataris.

Around 67 percent of spending was on fashion and clothing, followed by watches and jewelry at 18 percent. Average spending by category increased one percent.

Beirut Central District represented 53 percent of tourist spending, followed by Ashrafieh and Verdun at 10 percent, and Dbayeh at five percent. Spending in Verdun increased 71 percent. “This is because this area saw the opening of ABC Verdun, which hosts a wide variety of brands,” Yaccoub said.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Jan 14, 2019