Lebanon is experiencing an unprecedented tourism boom this summer with a record number of tourists reaching 1,100,000 during the first seven months of 2009 compared to a total of 1,300,000 for the entire year 2008, said Ministry of Tourism General Director Nada Sardouk.
“At the beginning of 2009 we expected to end the year with a record number of 2,000,000 tourists which appears to be very possible because until now, we were able to reach the total number we have achieved in all of 2008,” said Sardouk.
The number of incoming tourists to Lebanon totaled 1,085,778 in the first seven months of 2009, constituting an increase of 57.3 percent from 690,180 tourists in the same period last year, as reported by Byblos bank’s weekly report.
Sardouk said that this summer a very small percentage of Lebanese people left the country with huge numbers preferring to spend their summer vacations visiting various Lebanese touristic areas.
“One of the most important indicators for the success of the tourism season this year is the high demand for tours inside the country,” she said.
According to Byblos bank report, Arab tourists accounted for 40.9 percent of total visitors and were followed by visitors from Europe with 24.3 percent, Asia with 14.7 percent, America with 13.5 percent, Oceania with 3.6 percent and Africa with 2.2 percent.
The record number of tourists reflected positively on the occupancy rates at Lebanon’s hotels which reached an average of 90 percent during the six months of 2009, according to the president of the Hotelier’s Syndicate, Pierre Ashkar.
“This is the best season in 15 or 20 years and this is due to the stability that the country is witnessing so far,” said Ashkar.