Nearly 100 percent: This is the year-on-year increase in the number of tourists visiting Lebanon over the first six months of 2022, according to Ministry of Tourism figures published by Lebanon This Week, Byblos Bank’s weekly newsletter.
A total of 570,738 travelers visited Lebanon between January and June 2022, up from 291,570 in the same period of 2021.
Compared with 2020, when 199,722 tourists set foot in Lebanon, the rate of increased tourist visits hit 189 percent, which means that it almost doubled.
This increase in the number of foreign visitors to Lebanon owes itself to the resumption of international tourism following the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns between 2020 and 2021.
Of the first six months of the year, the highest year-on-year increase in the number of arrivals to Lebanon was recorded in February, with a 198 percent increase, or a total of 67,800 visitors.
Indeed, February 2021 saw a lockdown imposed in the country to combat a spike in COVID-19 cases.
In terms of tourist numbers, June unsurprisingly recorded the highest number of arrivals with a total of 154,740 travelers, although the lowest increase (47.4 percent) compared with June 2021, when 104,950 tourists arrived at the Beirut International Airport. The airport at the time had reopened its doors as COVID-19 cases dropped.
The Ministry of Tourism database also details the tourists’ origin by country, region and continent. The Ministry indicated in its report that it did not count Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian travelers.
Between January and June 2022, the majority of tourists came from Europe, with a total of 38 percent, followed by Arab countries (28 percent), the Americas (21.2 percent), Asia (4.5 percent), Africa (4.2 percent) and Oceania (4.1 percent). This last percentage, for Oceania, consists of a year-on-year increase of 869.3 percent.
In terms of countries, the highest rate of tourists was among Iraqis with a total of 15.6 percent of travelers during the first six months of this year.
This is followed by the Americans (11.6 percent), French (8.7 percent), Germans (6.9 percent), Canadians (6.8 percent), Egyptians (4.8 percent), Swedes (4.3 percent), Jordanians (3.8 percent), British (3 percent), Turks (2.2 percent), Kuwaitis (1.5 percent), Brazilians (1.4 percent), Italians (1.3 percent), Venezuelans (0.5 percent), Saudis (0.2 percent) and finally, tourists from the United Arab Emirates (0.04 percent).
With a multigenerational diaspora, Lebanon expected this summer more than one million travelers to arrive, according to the Ministry, including “75 percent expatriates.”
The tourism sector has eagerly waited for this resurgence, hoping for a recovery after the outbreak of COVID-19 and the deadly Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020, which destroyed part of the capital, including many hotels and restaurants. This is not to mention the economic and financial crisis that hit the country for three years.
Source: L’Orient-Le Jour