Lebanon Businessnews News

Upward trend in tourism reversed
2011 brought downhill slide in activity with 24 percent drop in number of visitors
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The tourism sector saw a steep decline throughout the whole of last year.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists in 2011 stood at around 1.65 million, plunging by almost 24 percent from the previous year. In 2010, the number of tourists had grown by around 17 percent from the year before.

The general turnover in the restaurants' business has seen a slowdown of 20 to 25 percent compared to 2010, according to Paul Ariss, the president of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs, and Pastries.
Tourist numbers during the summer season of 2011, namely the months of June, July, and August declined by 23 percent, 39 percent, and 20 percent respectively.

Ariss said that the low hotel occupancy rates in 2011, as well as the slowdown in other tourist-related businesses, would further damage the turnover of the whole tourism industry. He estimated the tourism sector’s profits in 2011 to have regressed by around 35 percent from the previous year.

Arab tourists accounted for 35 percent of total visitors in 2011, but their number was down by 22.5 percent compared to 2010.

According to Ariss, the prospects for this year to offset the outcome of 2011 are low. “2012 is going to be a hard year for the tourism sector,” Ariss said. He said that the turmoil in Syria, the ongoing domestic political instability, and other local factors, namely the severe power cuts and traffic jams, “will in no way help encourage more visitors in 2012 than those who dared come in 2011.”

“Let’s hope that things will get better in Syria and that our political leaders, by some miracle, start gaining some national sense,” he said.
Date Posted: Jan 24, 2012
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