BEIRUT – Tourism Minister Faddi Abboud on Tuesday said he expected the number of tourists to Lebanon to reach two million at the end of 2009. In a statement to the press, Abboud said this number could even rise further in the future if a sustainable tourism plan is adopted by the government.
Lebanon saw a record number of Lebanese, Arab and European visitors this summer, despite the biting global recession which hit the EU and several oil-rich Gulf states.
Tourism represents a big chunk of the country’s GDP.
Abboud, an industrialist by practice, believes that tourists could be enticed to visit the country 365 days a year in 2010 if a proper and full-proof plan to promote tourism is adopted.
“Arab tourists represent now 50 percent of the total visitors to Lebanon and they have become the main driving force for the tourism industry here,” Abboud said.
He added that many tourists have arrived in the month of December and intend to spend Christmas and New Year eve in Beirut and the mountains.
He added that the Europeans now represent 21 percent of the total number of visitors to Lebanon and this is a significant figure.
Abboud also pointed to a considerable rise in the number of tourists from the Far East, most notably from China.
The minister said that many middle class tourists from Europe and Asia have attended musical concerts in Lebanon during the summer season.