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French Version

Report illustrates negative impact of political crises on tourism sector

Hotels and furnished apartments see occupancy plunge by 14.4 percent

Hotels and furnished rental apartments experienced a drop of 14.4 percent in occupancy in 2007 from 2006, underscoring the toll on the tourism industry exacted by the enduring political and security unrest, according to Tourism Ministry figures published in Byblos Bank's publication Lebanon This Week.

The ministry registered a total of 441,306 persons using hotels and furnished apartments and spending 984,433 nights in such facilities in 2007, figures which represent decreases of 5.8 percent and 14.4 percent from 2006 tallies, respectively.

The year 2006 "was better than last year," Izzat Ghandour, front desk agent at La Beryte Hotel in Ain al-Mreisseh, told The Daily Star on Sunday. "The summer of 2007 was around 15 to 20 percent below the summer of 2006" before the war with Israel, he added.

Occupancy at the Riviera Hotel in Manara slipped noticeably down in 2007 from the preceding year, said front desk agent Elias Dib. However, occupancy at the Savoy Raouche Hotel more than doubled to about 80 percent on average in 2007 compared to 2006 because of the tourists driven away by the summer 2006 war and the ensuing political deterioration, said front office agent Mohammad Tawil.

Clients in all hotels and apartments stayed an average of 2.23 nights per person in 2007, down from 2.46 nights per person in 2006 and 2.49 nights in 2005, the ministry numbers showed.

Visitors came from 148 countries and spent a total of $59 million in 2007 on lodging in hotels and furnished apartments, down 14.5 percent from $69 million in 2006 and down 13.2 percent from $68 million in 2005.

The figures embody the industry's withering since the peak year of 2004, when a total of 560,444 visitors spent 1.48 million nights, stayed an average of 2.65 nights per person and spent a total of $89 million on accommodation.

Arab nationals, including Lebanese citizens, comprised 74.3 percent of all guests and 69.1 percent of total nights, compared to 70.3 percent of the guests and 65.5 percent of nights spent in 2006 and 68.8 percent of guests and 63.1 percent of nights spent in 2005, according to Byblos Research.

Lebanese citizens represented 108,691 clients, or 24.6 percent of the total, up from 19.2 percent in 2006. Lebanon was followed by Saudi Arabia with 46,044 clients (10.4 percent), Jordan with 36,028 (8.2 percent), Iraq with 26,525 (6 percent), Kuwait with 23,721 clients (5.4 percent), Syria with 21,414 (4.8 percent), the United Arab Emirates with 19,889 (4.5 percent), Egypt with 14,244 (3.2 percent), France with 13,356 (3 percent), and Bahrain with 11,361 clients (2.6 percent), the ministry said.

As for the total number of nights spent, Lebanese accounted for 193,187 nights, or 19.6 percent of the total, followed by citizens of Saudi Arabia with 104,448 nights (10.6 percent), Jordan with 67,148 nights (6.8 percent), Iraq with 66,576 nights (6.7 percent), Kuwait with 53,798 nights (5.5 percent) and Syria with 39,505 nights (4 percent), the ministry said.

Moroccans had the longest typical stay of Arab nationals, with an average of 10.18 nights per person, followed by Sudan (2.92 nights), Tunisia (2.68), Iraq (2.51), Palestine (2.36), Libya and Djibouti (2.35 each). Lebanese nationals stayed an average of 1.78 nights.

As for non-Arabs, Belarus citizens led with an average of 36.1 nights per person, followed by Moldova (30.84), Uzbekistan (26.25), Eritrea (22), Ukraine (21.25), Romania (14.33) and Russia (13.31), the ministry said.

Beirut 03-03-2008
The Daily Star

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