Lebanon is witnessing an exodus of Western and Gulf tourists following warnings issued by the Gulf countries and worsening security situation in the north of the country and capital city of Beirut.
However, Western embassies, unlike Gulf countries, did not ask their citizens to leave the country but advised not to travel to flash points and remain cautious in tension regions. Concerns expressed by Gulf and Western countries are taking a toll on tourism in Lebanon.
“Kuwaiti, Qatari, Bahraini and Emirati tourists make up only 10% of tourists in Lebanon, therefore, leaving the country would not hurt the overall prospects of tourism this summer” said Lebanon’s Tourism minister.
The private sector is unhappy with the situation and is dreading the repeat of last year’s scenario when tourist arrivals dramatically fell by 24% compared to 2010.
“We are interested in reassuring everybody, especially friendly states which have taken measures regarding the travel of their people to Lebanon, that their security is part of ours and that we are keen on their safety as much as we are keen on the safety of the Lebanese,” Najib Mikati, Lebanon’s prime minister, said while chairing a tourism sector meeting.