1

Comments

Facebook

Twitter

Google

send


AFP

Lebanon eyes tourism boost
as Saudi "ends unofficial ban"

BEIRUT - Saudi Arabia and other Gulf governments have lifted an unofficial ban on travel to Lebanon, boosting prospects for the summer tourism season, Lebanon's tourism minister told AFP 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."

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.

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    As a humble Lebanese citizen, I still strongly advise Saudis and other Gulf penguins not to come to Lebanon this summer or ever for that matter. We don't like you, we snicker behind your backs, we make fun at your garbage bag-draped women, but we pretend to like you just to bilk you out of a few dollars. You see, we too have our problems: We are prostitutes, we sleep with all our enemies, including you, just to make a dollar with which to flash our "success" to our neighbors with fancy cars and stuff. Just like the proverbial pimp in his colorful clothes and his pink Cadillac. Please stay in your countries or go to more respectable Arab countries (like Morocco) if you don't want to go to Western countries. Lebanon is rife with corruption and crime, and it could explode at any moment into a civil sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites, Syrian refugees, Shiite terrorists, Sunni terrorists, Syrian terrorists, Iranian terrorists, etc. .... God forgive you if you become trapped in Lebanon: The airport is in Hezbollah's Shiite hands, and you can't travel out of the country by land because you'd have to go through the lovely and picturesque Syria with its ongoing festival of Arab sectarian violence. أعذر من أنذر.

    May 16, 2014