25 January 2017
BEIRUT: Tourism Minister Avedis Kadanian said Tuesday that he plans to unveil a plan to lure Arab tourists back to Lebanon. “We are preparing a project for Arab nationals. The plan calls for competitive prices for their stay in Lebanon and organizing cultural and scientific conferences in the country,” the minister said after meeting with a committee on tourism.
The minister did not disclose any details about the project, which aims to entice Arab Gulf nationals who have avoided traveling to Lebanon following the outbreak of the war in Syria. Arab Gulf nationals represented the bulk of the tourists who visited Lebanon before the war in Syria erupted.
President Michel Aoun visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar earlier this month to reassure these states that Lebanon under his administration is keen to maintain good ties with them and to encourage the governments to lift the travel advisory on Lebanon.
Most hotels and restaurants have seen the volume of business drop drastically since Arab Gulf nationals started avoiding Lebanon.
Aoun’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar was welcomed by nearly all business leaders in the country.
The head of the Beirut Chambers of Commerce, Mohammed Choucair, told the Central News Agency that many Arab Gulf nationals have already booked flights and hotel reservations in Lebanon for the end of this month.
He added that Gulf nationals feel encouraged to visit Lebanon after Aoun traveled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “The president’s visit has created a positive atmosphere in the Gulf states and Lebanon as well. We expect more Gulf nationals to visit Lebanon very soon,” he said.
Choucair pinned high hopes on the Lebanese-Saudi Economic Forum, which will be held in Beirut this March. The forum is expected to draw hundreds of prominent Saudi executives and investors who will interact with their Lebanese counterparts to discuss mutual projects in both countries.
Choucair said the success of the Lebanese security forces in foiling terrorist attacks have also caused relief among Gulf nationals.
Noting that terrorist attacks have hit many countries, he said the Lebanese security forces had proved to be very effective in busting terrorist cells all over the country.
Choucair stressed that the political reconciliation among the main Lebanese political groups has also defused the tension that prevailed in the country for the last four years.
Economists and bankers are also upbeat about the future and note that economic indicators are expected to improve in the coming months.
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