Lebanon Businessnews News

Significant growth expected
in European tourist numbers
Culture, countryside, history proving irresistible
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The number of European tourists is expected to grow significantly this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism (MoT). Approximately 706,000 Europeans visited the country last year, registering an annual growth rate of ten percent over the last two years, according to the MoT. Based on these growth rates, the ministry anticipates 800,000 European visitors this year, accounting for 40 percent of the total visitors.

French tourists topped the list of visitors reaching 183,000 last year, registering ten percent increase compared to 2017. They were followed by Germans (100,000 and five percent increase), and British (77,000 and 13 percent).

The number of German visitors is expected to grow at a larger rate than their fellow Europeans, according to MoT.

Lebanon’s culture, countryside, and history are proving irresistible.

“Beirut is indeed a fascinating city with lots of attractions. I was taken aback about the diversity in social fabric, architecture, art, music and food,” said Julia Koch de Biolley, EU Deputy Head of Mission at the ‘Towards Sustainable Tourism’ conference held this week. “Qadisha Valley and its waterfalls can compete with the Grand Canyon,” she said.

Europeans tend to stay in four-star hotels, according to Elissar Baalbaki, Chairman of the Syndicate of Touristic Guides. “Well-known archeological sites such as Baalbek, Byblos, Saida, and Tyre are still the most demanded sites,” she said.

European visitors looking for a different experience are taking advantage of the country’s rural and eco-tourism offerings.

“There is definitely an increasing demand for outdoor activities by Europeans,” said Gilbert Moukheiber, Founder of 33 North, an experiential tourism operator.

“The variety of affordable accommodations, such as guesthouses, is also attracting the Europeans,” said Nada Sardouk, Director General of the MoT.

Direct Middle East Airlines flights connecting Madrid and Copenhagen with Beirut over the last two years contributed to the increased demand, said Marwan Haber, Director of Sales at MEA.

“The ‘Visit Lebanon’ events, which have been held for the last two years to promote the country, acquainted travel agencies and tour operators worldwide with Lebanon.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: Mar 22, 2019
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