Absence of Gulf tourists could hurt Lebanese tourist industry
It appears that the recession the Lebanese have experienced over the last two decades will resurface as Gulf states are warning their citizens not to travel to Lebanon.
Lebanese Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon admitted that the absence of Gulf and Saudi tourists will have a negative effect on Lebanese tourism. He said he hoped that the crisis in Saudi-Lebanese relations would pass quickly, and that Gulf and Saudi tourists would return to Lebanon next summer.
He praised Saudi Arabia’s stance toward Lebanon and its support for the Lebanese people over the past years and the deep relations between the two countries.
According to statistics from the Lebanese Tourism Ministry, Saudis constituted 80 percent of Gulf tourists in 2014 while in 2011, 73,000 Saudi tourists visited the country despite the Arab Spring.
Gulf tourists make significant contributions to the Lebanese economy. Fears are being expressed since the recent warnings by some Gulf states and Saudi Arabia that their citizens should not visit Lebanon.
Saudis continued to visit Lebanon after the Taif Accord which put an end to the Lebanese Civil War. The Saudi government brokered the agreement and began the process of political reconciliation inside the country and its reconstruction with Saudi support.