Recent statistics from Lebanon’s tourism ministry state that tourist arrivals increased for the ninth month in a row in February 2015, up year-on-year by 20.5% (175, 859 visitors) in the first two months of the year.
Visitors from the Gulf countries registered a strong increase with double-digit growth from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Egypt and Iran.
Tracking this growth, Lebanon’s tourism industry is showing early signs of improvement. This growth will be further highlighted at the forthcoming Arabian Travel Market 2015 backed by Colliers International forecast of hotel occupancy figure of up to 49% for Beirut hotels.
“Lebanon has long been a favoured long weekend destination for GCC residents, and the added resurgence in Egyptian, and particularly, Iraqi tourists, in recent months, have created new demand,” said Nadege Noblet, exhibition manager for Arabian Travel Market.
The airport figures further support this growth with passenger traffic on the rise by 10.24% year-on-year in the first two months of 2015. The Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport recorded 419,369 passenger movements. The Colliers forecast also predicts a RevPAR for Beirut’s three, four and five-star hotel market of US$78 this year, up 1% from 2014, and ADR of US$158.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Lebanon 2014 report, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was US$3.2 billion (6.9% of total GDP) in 2013. Travel and tourism is also estimated to indirectly contribute US$9 billion (19.2%) of GDP in 2013. In 2015, these figures are forecast to rise by 2.1% and 2.2%, respectively with the sector also generating 92,500 jobs in 2013; with forecasted growth of 2.7% in 2014.