The Tourism sector has traditionally been one of Lebanon’s leading economic sectors, representing a major source of income and employment. The direct contribution of travel and tourism was valued at USD 3.8 billion in 2018, accounting for 7% of Lebanon’s GDP.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:
Total contribution of the sector was estimated at USD 10.4 billion or 19.1% of GDP in 2018, the second highest ratio in the Middle East.
Capital investments in the sector were valued at USD 1.3 billion in 2018 and are expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.7% over the next ten years to USD 1.7 billion by 2028
One of the largest employers in the country, as the tourism sector generated 144,300 direct jobs (or 6.7% of total employment) in 2018, out of 394,300 total jobs in the sector (or 18.4% of total employment)
One of the fastest growing sectors in Lebanon, with an average annual growth rate of 10% since 2014.
Tourist arrivals reached 1.9 million at the end of 2018, the highest since the record 2 million tourists in 2010. Europeans accounted for the largest share of tourists or 36%, followed by Arab visitors or 29% of total tourists.
Tourism spending increased in 2017 with the return of Gulf tourists to Lebanon. Saudi Arabian nationals recorded the largest share of spending, accounting for 14% of total spending, followed by the UAE (12%) and Kuwait (7%).
Leisure attractions: Leisure tourism continues to take precedence over all other types of tourism, although business and health tourism are steadily on the rise. Resorts and hotels are located along most of Lebanon’s coast, offering water activities and beach access. Lebanon is well known for its world-class gastronomy and a leading destination for nightlife and entertainment, catering for a variety of tastes.
Cultural and Religious Heritage: Lebanon has a wide range of cultural tourism choices, including 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites. During the summer season. Lebanon hosts over 15 international music and entertainment festivals - such as the Baalbeck and Byblos International Festivals - featuring local and world-acclaimed artists. In 2018, the Vatican reintroduced Lebanon to its list of worldwide pilgrimage destinations after a 12-year absence.
Availability of Natural Heritage: Lebanon has access to 225 kms of Mediterranean coastline, its beaches and favorable summer weather make it a perfect destination for ’sun and beach” gateways. Lebanon hosts six ski resorts for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, as well as other winter sports options such as backcountry, cross-country and snowshoe trails. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking hiking trails throughout the country all year round.
Accommodation establishments: Lebanon has over 190 hotels with a capacity of around 12,300 rooms. With most hotels concentrated in Beirut and falling within the 4 to 5-star category, there are ample opportunities for more hotels beyond Beirut and in a wide range of other categories, including boutique hotels, guest houses, youth hostels and furnished apartments.
Medical Tourism: Lebanon is renowned for its world-class health services and has always been considered the Middle East’s top destination for medical tourism. New investment opportunities exist in wellness and alternative medicine, elderly care centers, rehabilitation centers and sports and health centers.
Business and Convention Centers: Lebanon has only a handful of large exhibition centers, the majority of which are located within existing hotels. This offers ample opportunities for landmark flagship developments in Beirut and beyond the capital. Opportunities exist in large-scale as well as small and medium-sized centers.
Food and Beverage: Beirut was ranked best international food destination in 2016 by Travel and Leisure magazine, placing Lebanon as a food and beverage hub. Opportunities exist in casual diners, neighborhood bars and high-end restaurants.