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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More