The Lebanese tourism sector, a leading growth driver, took the hit in Q1 2020 as the national protests ongoing since Q4 2019 were coupled with international travel bans following the outbreak of coronavirus in Lebanon starting February 2020.
Recent statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) revealed that the number of travelers to Beirut International Airport slumped by an annual 48.3% to stand at 194,395 tourists only by March 2020. In fact, this contraction goes hand-in-hand with the steep decline of 31% year-on-year (YOY) witnessed in the number of airport passengers which totaled 1.2M in Q1 2020.
On a yearly basis, the decline in the cumulative number of tourists in Q1 2020 unveiled a reduction in the number of tourists from Lebanon’s top 3 destinations. European tourists grasped the lion’s share or 39.9% of total tourists, while travelers from the Arab countries and America grasped the respective shares of 28.1% and 16.3% of total incoming tourists.
The breakdown of the MoT’s statistics showed that the number of tourists from the Arab countries recorded the largest yearly decline equivalent to an annual 60% to settle at 54,695 travelers. This can be attributed to the sharp drop of 58.4% in the number of Iraqi tourists totaling 20,421 while the Egyptian and Jordanian tourists also retreated substantially by 55.9% and 53.8%YOY to 10,524 and 8,569 tourists, respectively.
By the same token, the number of European tourists fell severely by 41%YOY to 77,620 travelers in Q1 2020. Substantial declines were registered across the board, with visitors from France (10.4% of total tourists) falling by 37.3%YOY to 20,294 tourists. In turn, the number of travelers from Germany (4.7% of the total) slumped by 41.9%YOY to 9,066 visitors while the number of tourists from the UK (4.4% of the total) contracted by 40.5%YOY to 8,609 travelers, over the same period. Meanwhile, the number of tourists coming from America retreated by 40.1% to 31,591 tourists, with travelers from the USA (8% of total tourists) declining by a yearly 42.8% to 15,560 in Q1 2020. Canadian travelers (5.2% of total tourists) also fell by 40.4%YOY to 10,054 over the same period.
Moreover, on a monthly basis, the tourism activity faced an even harsher reality with the number of tourists in March alone slumping from 144,760 in March 2019 to 29,353 tourists in March of this year. The retreat is mainly attributed to the sharp annual decreases of 76.02% and 85.2% in the number of tourists coming from Europe (41.9% of total tourists) and the Arab countries (26.4% of total). As such, these totaled 12,297 and 7,763 travelers over the period. In addition, tourists from the Americas (16.7% of the total) also fell by an annual 76.3% to 4,897 over the same period.
Source: Ministry of Tourism