The first month of 2021 was particularly challenging for Lebanon, both externally and internally, given the spread of Covid19 and that last year ushered in an open-ended eruption of social rioting across the country which paralyzed businesses and disrupted the activity of most economic sectors.
Against this backdrop, tourism, one of Lebanon’s main growth drivers, suffered the most where restaurants, hotels and Ski resorts were closed down due to the lockdown measures against the pandemic. Correspondingly, the total number of airport passengers welcomed by Beirut Airport began the year by 206,603 passengers in January 2021. This parameter fell by 60.47% compared to 522,636 passengers in January 2020.
Moreover, the breakdown of the January Beirut Airport statistics showed that total arrivals alone went down by 71.01% year-on-year (YOY), to stand at 67,076 arrivals. By the same token, the number of departures passengers contracted by an annual 52.38% totaling 132,477 departures over the same period. Further, the number of transit passenger’s also witnessed a downtick of 45.98% YOY reaching 7,050 transit passengers in the mentioned period.
Overall, the vaccination campaign may have begun, but Lebanon is no near being clear of the pandemic. The country has been suffering from three mega-crises, an economic, health and the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosion which fueled a new emigration of the Lebanese youth from the country. According to “Macrotrends”, the current net migration rate for Lebanon in 2021 increased by 32.06% comparing to last year.
Expectedly, the number of total departures in the upcoming months will surge as the youth’s desire to emigrate will likely increase. In turn, the number of tourists is not going to improve as the world is still at the core of the pandemic, in addition to the worsening instability in the country.
As such, data on occupancy as per E&Y benchmark survey revealed that the occupancy rate at Beirut’s 4- and 5- stars hotels fell to a low of 18% by December 2020. And the average room rate rose by 134.4% from $92 in December 2019 to $216 in December 2020. However, the increase is inflated by valuing the room rates at the overvalued official exchange rate of 1,500 LBP per USD.
Beirut’s Airport Activity By January 2021
Sources: Beirut International Airport, BlomInvest