Middle East tourism industry to grow 50pc
The tourism industry in Lebanon and the Middle East will grow by 50 per cent in the next 10 to 20 years, a global gathering of travel experts was told.World Tourism Organisation secretary-general Francesco Frangible said according to forecasts, growth in the Middle East's tourism industry will be 50 per cent more than the world's average by 2020. "Tourist sites will be subject to increased pressure," he was quoted as saying. Frangialli was speaking at a seminar organised alongside the Arab World's Travel and Tourism Exchange (AWTTE) held at Martyrs Square, the report said. "The number of tourists who came to the Middle East last year increased by nearly 10 per cent to 20 million, which is more than the seven per cent world average growth," said Frangialli. The WTO's forecast of tourism growth in the Middle East is backed by the findings of US-based Stanford Research Institute (SRI), which has been commissioned by USAID to study the tourism industry in Lebanon. "According to the tourism trends between 1998 and 1999, the Middle East region had the most rapid growth in the world at over 100 per cent," said John Mathieson, director of economic practice at SRI.