Lebanon's tourism: Will 2017 be the light at the end of the tunnel?
Written by Malek   

Tourism was once viewed as one of the main sources of revenue for the Lebanese economy. (File photo)

The daily Star Lebanon - A leading international tourism agency said the sector in Lebanon is expected to generate a revenue of $3.4 billion in 2017. “The World Travel & Tourism Council estimated that the travel & tourism industry would directly contribute $3.4 billion to the Lebanese economy in 2017, equivalent to about 7.1 percent of GDP, down from more than 10 percent of GDP in 2010,” the report said. The WTTC said the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2015 was LL5.436 trillion (8.1 percent of GDP) and forecast that the sector would rise by 4.8 percent in 2016. There are no official figures on the revenues generated from tourism sector in 2016 but all experts agree that the hospitality industry did not perform well due to the decline in the number of tourists.

Tourism was once viewed as one of the main sources of revenue for the Lebanese economy. However, officials hope that Arab tourists and especially Arab Gulf nationals will return to Lebanon in great number this summer after the thaw in relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. WTTC also anticipated that direct industry employment will reach 123,800 persons in 2017, representing 6.9 percent of total employment. It expected that the tourism sector’s contribution to the Lebanese economy to expand by 2.9 percent in real terms in 2017. “The decline in the sector’s contribution to economic activity since 2010 cannot be attributed only to domestic and regional political and security developments. It is part of the decline in the Lebanese economy’s overall competitiveness, especially the weakening state of the infrastructure and the deterioration in public service delivery,” Nassib Ghobril, chief economist at Byblos Bank, said.

He added that the decline in the sector’s contribution to economic activity since 2010 cannot be attributed only to domestic and regional political and security developments.

“It is part of the decline in the Lebanese economy’s overall competitiveness, especially the weakening state of the infrastructure and the deterioration in public service delivery. The tourism sector needs to regain its regional competitiveness by upgrading the country’s basic infrastructure, as well as by reducing the cost of visiting Lebanon,” Ghobril said.

It added that, since the T&T industry affects all sectors of the economy, its real direct and indirect impact is more significant.

“As such,the sector is forecast to generate $9.4bn or 19.5 percent of Lebanon’s overall economic activity in 2017, and to employ 338,200 persons, or 18.9 percent of total employment,” it said.

Copyright © 2017, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.