The number of tourists to Lebanon fell 7.9% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to last year, according to figures issued by the Central Administration of Statistics over the weekend.
The number of tourists totalled 313,854 in the first quarter, falling from 340,670 in the first quarter of 2011, the report said. The figures as reported by Daily Star carry a particularly negative outlook given that the first quarter of 2011 saw a significant decline from 2010 levels.
The tourism ministry figures released in April 2011 showed that Lebanon saw a 13% drop in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2011, compared to the first quarter of 2010. Analysts and officials say the turmoil across Syria remains a major reason behind the decrease in the number of tourists, as visitors who typically enter Lebanon from Syria have no longer been able to do so.
However, despite the lower number of tourists, figures issued by Global Blue, the Value Added Tax refund operator, showed that total spending by tourists increased by 36% during the same period. According to the report, published in Byblos Bank’s weekly newsletter, tourists from Saudi Arabia spent the most while in Lebanon, accounting for 22% of all spending. 86% of tourist spending was reported in Beirut followed by Metn, Kesrouan and Baabda, which scored 11%, 2% and 1% respectively.
According to the CAS report, Arab tourists accounted for 43.2% of total visitors in the first three months of 2012. Europeans came second accounting for 28% of tourists. Visitors from the Americas came third with 11.3% and Asians were 10.8%. Africans accounted for 4.4% of tourists.