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Lebanon upbeat about booming tourist summer

News report by Klovis Shwaifati BEIRUT, June 28 (KUNA) -- Lebanon is hoped to see a thriving tourist summer as more than one million Lebanese expatriates, Arabs and foreigners are expected to pour in.
Lebanese people pin hopes that the expected influx of tourists this summer would ease out the impacts and fallout of the country's continued economic and financial crises.
Tourists from Arab and foreign countries are largely expected to flow to Lebanon this year, compared with previous years, on the basis of the depreciation of the local currency versus the US dollar.
Speaking to KUNA in this regard, Lebanese Minister of Tourism Waleed Nassar said Lebanon receives as many as 14,000 tourists at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport on a daily basis, a figure which is forecast to skyrocket to 1.2 million by the end of the summer season.
Of this figure, Lebanese expatriates make up 75 percent, while Arab and foreign tourists constitute 15 percent and 10 percent respectively, he said, believing that prices in Lebanon are cheaper than prices in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and other Mediterranean countries.
He recalled that the tourist sector in 2018 - ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, had earned USD nine billion, predicting it to hit more than USD three billion during the 2022 summer season.
The Lebanese minister of tourism voiced much hope that the influx of tourists in the country would favorably affect Lebanon's economic growth amid the ongoing difficult circumstances.
The minister pointed out that all tourist facilities, including hotels and restaurants, have completely geared up for the tourist season.
In this context, the Ministry of Tourism has launched a new media campaign to promote the country's tourist attractions with a view to roping in more tourists wishing to enjoy mountainous, religious and sports sites nationwide.
For his part, Pierre Ashkar, head of the Syndicate of Hotel Owners in Lebanon, said the year 2022 would be much better than the past year as all Covid-19 restrictions and measures have been eased.
He remarked that tourists are mainly Lebanese expatriates coming from different world countries, as well as Arabs from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, who now consider Lebanon an attractive tourist destination amid the sharp depreciation of the local currency compared the U.S. dollar.
Ashkar expected that this promising season's revenues cover spending in hotels, air tickets, restaurants, shopping and other economic activities. (end) kbs.mt