TOURIST arrivals in Lebanon have grown 33 per cent in the first quarter of 2004, reaching a total of 202,422 visitors, according to the Tourism Ministry. During the same period in 2003, only 151,844 visitors travelled to the country.
Forty per cent of this year's numbers were Arab, 27 per cent European, 16 per cent Asian and 10 per cent American.
The ministry also reported a total of 71,956 tourists in March, a 77 per cent jump over the previous year and 18 per cent up from the previous month. The rise in numbers is partially attributed to the war in Iraq last spring, which negatively affected Lebanon's tourism sector. Nevertheless, the post-war growth meant the country managed to record a six per cent increase in tourist arrivals for 2003, exceededing the 1 million mark for the first time in over 30 years.
Meanwhile, passenger traffic at the Beirut International Airport jumped more than 20 percent in the first quarter of 2004. A total of 665,449 passengers used the airport in the first three months of the year. Of those, 305,755 were arrivals, an increase of 21 percent, putting the country on track to receive well over a million visitors this year.
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