Visitor arrivals grows 11 percent in Lebanon
Written by Malek   

Reported by Rania Ghanem

The total number of visitors reached 1.7 million last year, increasing 11 percent compared to 2015, according to the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).  “The country has regained trust after the positive political and security developments,” said Nada Sardouk, Director General at the MoT.  Europe was the main source of visitors last year (564,499) recording 12 percent increase compared to 2015. French visitors topped the list of Europeans (134,181) increasing nine percent, followed by Germans (87,567) with 17 percent increase.  The number of Arab visitors increased nine percent (522,922). Iraqis ranked the highest (236,013) increasing 23 percent compared to 2015, followed by Jordanians (86,693) recording 11 percent increase, and Egyptians (83,337) recording ten percent increase. The number of Saudi Arabian visitors dropped 16 percent (40,391) compared to 2015. Emiratis dropped 74 percent (2,114), and Kuwaitis dropped 20 percent (25,653). This drop was due to the Gulf’s travel warning.  The number of visitors coming from the Americas increased 12 percent (296,831). The main visitors were from the United States (154,095) recording a 13 percent increase, followed by Canadians (100,076) with a ten percent increase. Sardouk said that the strategy set by MoT since 2014 and the promotional campaigns launched through international and social media such as ‘Live Love Lebanon’ and ‘Rise above Lebanon’ contributed in improving tourism. Initiatives from the private sector also helped promote the country. he said that in previous years promotional campaigns were selling dreams, but today they are reflecting reality. The number of visitors to touristic sites reached 514,061. Jeitta Grotto received the largest number (186,737), followed by Byblos Castle Fort at (90,730), and Beiteddine Palace (72,967).