Tourist Spending Inched Down 1% y-o-y by September 2014

Global Blue’s Tourists Spending Report showed that tourist spending in Lebanon improved by 9% in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter of 2013. Yet, the first nine months of 2014 experienced a 1% decline compared to the first nine months of 2013 partly due to the security turbulences that occurred at the beginning of the year and the political uncertainties concerning the presidential elections.

 With respect to demographics, Arab spending continued to take the largest share of total tourist spending in Lebanon, by September this year. Despite a 10% year-on-year decrease in spending by September, Saudi incomers’ payments still grasped the largest stake of total spending, with 14%. The second highest spenders in Lebanon were Emiratis with a 13% share of the total. However, travel warnings against Lebanon from several GCC countries considerably affected tourism with Emirati spending dipping by 12% y-o-y from Q3 2013. Kuwaiti spending broke the declining trend, posting a 2% increase, and represented the third largest share of 7%. The three nationalities to post the biggest increases in consumer spending by September 2014 were the Americans, Egyptians, and French, with jumps in spending equaling 10%, 8% and 6% respectively, and respective shares of total spending reaching 3%, 6% and 5%.

 As for the number of VAT refund transactions, it increased by 3% in Q3 2014 from the same time last year. Refund transaction by tourists from Kuwait and Syria posted the most notable increases, with Kuwaitis’ refund transactions surging by 71% year-on-year in Q3 2014, while that of Syrian’s grew by 23% y-o-y during the same period. Also worth noting is the similar 14% increases in the refund transactions evolution of Saudi Arabians and Egyptians. Americans posted an increase of 5% y-o-y for Q3 2014, while Jordanians’ and Qataris’ refund transactions increased by 3% each The nationalities that showed drops in the number of their refund transactions were Nigerians, Emiratis, and French tourists, whose refund transactions posted declines of 27%, 13% and 10%, respectively. Tourists mostly dedicated their tax-refundable expenditures in Lebanon on fashion and clothing, which constituted 72% of the total. Watches and Jewelry took up 12% of their total spending, while “Home & Garden” constituted 4% of the total.

 With respect to point of sale distribution, Beirut shops attracted visitors the most, harnessing 80% of their total spending. However, the only area to witness increase in spending evolution was Baabda, Mount Lebanon, with 56% y-o-y growth by September 2014. This increase is explained by the opening of one of the biggest malls in Lebanon, Beirut City Center.

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