Sea resorts fully booked
by lockdown-freed residents
Number of foreign visitors still timid, mostly from Iraq
Bookings in beach resorts are almost full while inbound visitor arrivals have improved compared with last year but they still account for a 25 percent of their pre-Covid numbers.
The demand in the sea resort business is mainly domestic. “Most clients are people tired of lockdowns,” said Jean Beyrouthy, Chairman of the Syndicate of Owners of Beach and Seaside Resorts. The booking applies to 30 percent of chalets since the remaining 70 percent were sold in the past to individuals and families, he said.
Jean Abboud, Chairman of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents said that the airport is operating at 30 percent of its capacity and demand for hotel bookings is lower than this rate while airlines have not announced any extra flights. “Lebanon used to witness13,000-14,000 visitors per day from mid-June to mid-September. This number has fallen to 3,000-4,000. This is because of the Covid-19 restrictions which still are in force in many countries,” he said.
According to Abboud, visitor arrivals are likely to decline 60 percent compared with 2018. The situation will improve a little if additional demand comes from now until mid-June, he said.
Beyrouthy said: “Lebanon has become very cheap. Entry tickets to sea resorts typically range from LL15,000 to LL30,000 ($1 to $2 at parallel market exchange rates). The price could reach LL120,000 ($10) for tickets that used to sell for $40 before the crisis.”
Rabih Kehdy, General Manager of Madisson Hotel, a four-star hotel in Jounieh said that if the security situation is more reassuring, this summer could be a good season especially that Eid al-Adha occurs in July and Lebanon has become an inexpensive destination.
According to Abboud , the relatively high purchasing power of foreign visitors is not enough. “Other factors play a role in the selection of a visitor destination such as unrest and security issues in addition to the existence of basic amenities such as electricity, fuels, and gasoline.”
Hala Massaad, General Manager of Raouché Arjaan by Rotana said: “We expect full occupancy this summer if the security situation remains stable and if there is no interruption in the supply of electricity, Internet, gasoline, and other basic amenities.” Their occupancy rate is currently around 50 percent.
Some foreign visitors and Lebanese expats are also concerned about being subject to Covid-19 quarantine on their return.
Hotel bookings are done at the last moment due to low occupancy rates and to worries about unexpected events. “In the past, hotel guests used to book for summer five to six months ahead. They are not doing so anymore because they are aware of the low occupancy rates in local hotels which allows them to find a room any time they want. They are also concerned about sudden eruption of protests, unrest, or Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions,” said Bilal Arnaout, Cluster General Manager at Lancaster Hotels and Suites.
Most of hotel guests are Iraqis. Massaad said Iraqis account for 5o percent of their customers with the rest consisting of Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, and Lebanese expatriates. Arnaout said that Lebanese nationals both residents and expats prefer sea and mountain resorts. Lebanese residents who used to travel abroad to such destinations as Turkey, are now performing internal tourism mainly in the North, South, and Mount Lebanon, he said.
Rita Baradhi Hotel Manager at Dar Alma and Dar Camelia, two boutique hotels in Tyre said that most of their clients are Lebanese residents and that they used to have foreign visitors from European countries such as Germany, France, and Italy. She said their occupancy rate reaches around 80 percent on the weekend and falls to 30 percent during the week.
Date Posted: May 26, 2021