News / Middle East

War in Syria Hurts Lebanese Tourism Sector

War in Syria Hurts Lebanon’s Tourism Sectori
X
March 17, 2013 6:20 PM
As the war in Syria enters its third year, its economic impact is being felt by neighboring countries. Lebanon’s tourist industry declined by as much as 15 percent in 2012. Visitors from the Persian Gulf states, who makeup approximately a third of Lebanon’s tourists, but account for about 60 percent of the tourism spending, have stopped coming. Some are worried about the security situation, others are boycotting Lebanon for political reasons. Paige Kollock has details.
Paige Kollock
As the war in Syria enters its third year, its economic impact is being felt by neighboring countries. Lebanon’s tourist industry declined by as much as 15 percent in 2012. 

Visitors from the Persian Gulf states, who makeup approximately a third of Lebanon’s tourists, but account for about 60 percent of the tourism spending, have stopped coming. Some are worried about the security situation, others are boycotting Lebanon for political reasons.
 
The nickname of the once popular Lebanese mountain town Aley is ‘Arous el Masayif’ - ‘the bride of touristic places.’  But the picturesque village outside Beirut that once attracted many Saudis and other Gulf nation nationals for its quaint atmosphere and cool evening breezes, looks abandoned these days. 
 
Many restaurants are empty. Some have closed down for good.
 
Maher Abou Hassan, the manager of a restaurant in Aley said, "Before, you needed two to three hours just to get through the main street of Aley. It used to be packed. Now, look. It’s empty. Most of my customers used to be from the Gulf. This year, I had only two from there. And even the Lebanese customers are not coming much."
 
Abou Hassan’s restaurant, “The Sound of the Oud” - like the streets of his village - also used to be packed, filling all 200 seats every Saturday night. Now he’s lucky if he gets 40 customers.
 
Abou Hassan had to cut his employees from around 18 to four. 

Sagging numbers
 
With its beautiful mountains, stunning beaches, Roman ruins and Ottoman architecture, Lebanon’s economy has long leaned on tourism, which accounts for more than a quarter of its gross domestic product. Visitor numbers are down nearly 38 percent from 2010.
 
But the war in neighboring Syria is just one of the factors, says Lebanon’s Minister of Tourism Fady Abboud.
 
"We don’t have a road link with the rest of the world because certainly we don’t have a link with Israel, the only link is through Syria and probably I lost about a quarter of a million tourists coming by road to Lebanon, mainly Jordanians, Iranians and certainly from the Gulf," he said.       
 
To entice tourists, the ministry recently offered a promotion of 50 days for 50 percent off. Discounts were offered on airline tickets, hotels and restaurants.

"I regret to tell you that it hasn’t really worked because the reason for the Arab nationals not coming to Beirut is not the price actually; it’s the situation, political and security situation," said Nizar Khoury, head of the commercial section for Lebanon’s national carrier, Middle East Airlines.
 
So Lebanon is trying to diversify its pool of tourists by reaching out to new audiences from Russia, Latin America and Africa, among other regions.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs