Lebanon Businessnews News

Tourism turnover up
World Tourism and Travel Council says
investments in sector will rise this year
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The direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the GDP was estimated at $4.1 billion in 2012, constituting 9.3 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report. Lebanon ranked 56th out of 184 countries worldwide, in terms of the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP.

Raja Nasri, Chairman and General Manager of Turnkey Venture, a hospitality and consultancy firm, said these figures are far too optimistic: “Knowing the country’s current situation, these estimations cannot be reliable.”

Nasri said the political turmoil in the region worsened the economic slowdown and froze all investments in the tourism sector. “The report has definitely included the contribution of Lebanese expatriates and that of Syrians refugees to the local economy, counting them as tourists,” he said. Expatriates and visitors from Syria aren't usually included in local tourist statistics.

Paul Ariss, Head of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs, and Patisseries, said the sector is barely surviving. He said several businesses have already closed down and many others face the risk of closing.

On the contrary, WTTC expected the contribution of tourism to grow by 1.8 percent this year. Travel and tourism have directly provided 120,000 jobs in 2012. This figure is expected to fall by two percent this year. “Employment in the sector will be falling by much more than two percent if the country’s conditions were unchanged,” said Ariss. He said many institutions are dismissing their employees.

According to WTTC, investment in the travel and tourism sector reached $1.3 billion in 2012, representing ten percent of total investments made in the country. It expected this figure to rise by 2.7 percent this year, and by 6.4 percent annually over the next ten years.

Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: Mar 07, 2013
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