Lebanon tourism hits four-year high


BEIRUT — Tourism in Lebanon has hit a four-year high, with the first 10 months of 2008 recording the highest number of visitors for the period since ex-premier Rafiq Hariri’s murder, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday.

The number of tourists jumped to 1.10 million up to the end of October, an increase of 28.9 percent compared to the same period of 2007 when the figure stood at 855,573, it said in a report.

It was the highest figure for the January-October period since 2004, when the total stood at 1.12 million visitors.

Arab tourists accounted for 54 percent of visitors in October, the ministry said, hailing the “stable political situation since May 2008” when Lebanon’s political rivals struck an accord after deadly clashes in Beirut.

Lebanon has witnessed a string of political assassinations since the Beirut bomb blast which killed Hariri in February 2005.

In 2006, Israel and Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah fought a devastating summer war, while last year the Lebanese army battled Islamists, and political rivals clashed in Beirut in May before the accord was signed.