The financial and economic crisis in Lebanon has had an effect on all vital sectors, especially tourism. On the eve of Christmas and New Year, the country seemed devoid of joy that usually surrounded the streets.
Travel and tourism companies have seen a sharp decline in reservations for the holidays. Sources at Rafic Hariri International Airport told Asharq Al-Awsat that several airlines have reduced the number of their inbound and outbound flights. They added that this reduction was linked to the cancellation of many reservations, and not for any other reason.
Tourism companies that used to promote their offers two months ago seem almost absent from the social media. They have been unable to pay the salaries of their employees and cover the expenses of their offices in Lebanon and abroad.
Christelle Majdalani, Sales Manager at Nakhal for Travel and Tourism (one of the largest travel companies in Lebanon), told Asharq Al-Awsat that the financial and economic crisis has had a negative impact on the tourism sector and on the Lebanese reservations abroad.
“Travel reservations for Christmas and New Year holidays outside the country have fallen to 10 percent,” she said.
“Citizens residing in Lebanon prefer to stay home because of the scarcity of liquidity, burdens of life and inflation,” she added.
Turkey and Egypt remain the first destination for the Lebanese wishing to travel for leisure, due to very reasonable prices and the low exchange rate against the US dollar, compared to European countries.
Majdalani noted that those who booked flights to travel abroad for the holidays were the ones who have external funding sources, and cash transfers from parents or children working abroad, but they are few.
The crisis is also impacting hotels and restaurants. A source at the Hotel Owners Syndicate told Asharq Al-Awsat that reservations this year were almost at their lowest levels.
“A large number of tourism institutions will not organize special events on Christmas and New Year due to the difficult economic conditions,” the sources said.