Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.



Russia Hikes Import Tariffs for Consumer Goods from 'Unfriendly Countries'

A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
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Russia Hikes Import Tariffs for Consumer Goods from 'Unfriendly Countries'

A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

Russia increased imports tariffs for consumer goods, including candies, biscuits and shampoo, produced in countries that support sanctions against Moscow, according to a government order published late on Friday.

Russian imports from nations that imposed sanctions against Moscow over its military conflict with Ukraine slumped in 2022.

Some Western producers stopped selling to Russia, but Moscow has found roundabout ways to keep goods coming, including a grey imports scheme, and plenty of foreign goods remain on store shelves.

According to the order, the tariffs for perfume, cosmetics and shampoo from Poland, for example, will amount to 35% of the customs value. Duties for wallpapers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will rise to 50%.

The new tariffs will be in place until and including Dec. 31 2024 and take effect seven days after publication.