Lebanon tourism industry booms as GCC travellers flock to the country


Tourist traffic between the Gulf and the Levant is growing, with many carriers now increasing their flights between the two regions to cater to this growth.

Lebanon, recovering from the 15-year civil war, is looking forward to expanding its tourism industry, badly hit during the 1975-1990 war.
A Gulf News report quoting Ali Hussain Abdullah, the Lebanese Tourism Minister who inaugurated the Lebanese pavilion at the Global Village, said: ‘Lebanon has strong historic relations with the Gulf. Many Gulf nationals now travel to Lebanon to see the historic sites. At the same time, an increasing number of Lebanese nationals now visit the UAE, which has become a very good tourism destination.
He added, ‘After September 11, Arabs have been travelling to Lebanon more, giving a boost to inter-Arab tourism. Due to the international situation, they now feel more comfortable in an Arab country. Besides, we have strong cultural, historic and religious bonds with our Arab brothers of this region.
‘Our tourism sector is expanding and the industry is attracting more and more international visitors as well. Last year, the tourism sector generated about $1.2 billion in revenue. We have 14,000 hotel rooms,’ he added.
The Dubai-based Al Habtor Group, which owns and manages the Metropolitan hotel chain, has a large property in Beirut, the Metropolitan Hotel, which is currently undergoing expansion.
‘Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is also investing in large projects in Lebanon, beside many others,’ he said. According to the report, Ghasan Aridi, managing director of Alpha Tours, which promotes Dubai and Lebanon as tourist destinations, said: ‘We have seen a strong growth in tourist traffic between Dubai and Beirut. We, throughout our network, are also promoting both destinations.’