Lebanon Eyes Tourism Boost as Saudi 'Ends Unofficial Ban'

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf governments have lifted an unofficial ban on travel to Lebanon, boosting prospects for the summer tourism season, tourism minister told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

"There is an implicit normalization," Michel Pharaon said.

"I'm not putting the words in the mouths of any Saudi officials, but I can tell you that with our meetings, implicitly, yes, if there was a ban, today it is lifted," he said.

"As it was not an official ban, I would say that it's a non-official green light."

Since 2012, Gulf states whose citizens used to flock to Lebanon during the summer months have warned their nationals to avoid the country because of security concerns.

With a spate of kidnappings, and then increasing spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, tourists increasingly stayed away, devastating Lebanon's key tourism sector.

Pharaon said there were already signs of improvement, after a nosedive in visitors last year.

"When you look at the visitors to Lebanon, in 2010 it was 2.3 million, in 2013 we were at 1.3 million.

"But now I would say that they are coming back slowly, the planes are full, hotels are coming up to 60-70 percent, whereas at the same time last year they were at 30-35 percent," he said.

"I would say I'm optimistic, if I have to say what's in my heart. But in Lebanon, we always have to be cautious, so I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic for this season."

Comments 8
Missing leekin 15 May 2014, 16:06

Orio doesn't look bad for local flavor. :)

Thumb FlameCatcher 15 May 2014, 16:48

Yalla M8, start shouting your hearts out against Saudi tourists coming to Lebanon to spend their money.

You have proven that Syrian tourists (1M+) and Iranian tourists can effectively boost our economy and replace Saudis right ?

Missing peace 15 May 2014, 16:55

don't worry: a few car bombs, a little war, M8 are used to ruin the economy....

Thumb FlameCatcher 15 May 2014, 17:29

@Southern :

What are you talking about ? Until a year ago, you were blaming the Israelis ! Now the takfiris.

Get your story straight. You're the one that fell in the trap you ignorant idiot.

Now get out of my way before I slap you. Hezbollah scum murdering terrorist trash !

Thumb FlameCatcher 15 May 2014, 17:57

Southern : the only one agonising are Hezbollah members trying to figure out new people to accuse for their crimes. First its zionists, then takfiris, then zombies, then satan, ... who's next ?

Chronic disease you say ? You are Lebanon's disease and we found a cure for it : EDUCATION ! Now die already so your species of ignorant brainwashed idiots become extinct !

Missing karim_ 16 May 2014, 00:42

The brothels across Lebanon are now celebrating.

Missing peace 16 May 2014, 00:57

happy aren't you? you are looking forward to celebrating there coz you seem a bit frustrated... so go and empty yourself... the only place to empty that remains coz under your skull there is nothing...

Missing VINCENT 16 May 2014, 02:44

So, how does this work?