The continuing conflict in Lebanon looks set to destroy the government’s hopes of setting a tourism record this year of 1.6 million visitors.The conflict has halted the country’s summer tourism season in its tracks, which is a top summer vacation spot for Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis and others, as well as for the huge Lebanese community in the Gulf.
Tourism is also a vital source of revenue inflows from visitors from the Gulf and Beirut’s loss is likely to be Dubai’s gain, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit.
“The losses to the infrastucture alone have surpassed $500 million dollars,” Lebanese Finance Minister Jihad Azur told reporters.
Israel’s blockade and bombings have crushed ten years of effort to redevelop the tourist infrastructure.
Tom Barber, of Original Travel, told UK’s Sunday Times that the attacks had “probably put back Lebanese tourism by five years. We had growing numbers travelling to Beirut, who were thrilled by its culture, history and nightlife, and now it’s gone”.
Tourism in northern Israel and Tiberias is also likely to be affected due to the imminent fear of Hezbollah rockets. The area is a favourite vacation destinations for Israeli and overseas travellers.
The United Nations estimates Lebanon’s tourism sector is responsible for 12-15 percent of Gross Domestic Product.