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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid