BEIRUT: The Beirut airport saw an increase in the number of incoming passengers, although at a slightly slower pace than the previous months of the year, newly released figures for the first half of 2012 show. The latest statistics published by the Rafik Hariri International Airport showed that the overall number of tourists still recorded an annual decline. The year-on-year growth of the number of arriving passengers, which peaked in the first quarter of this year at 21.4 percent, has been slowing since then to reach 11.9 percent in the first half of 2012. The number of tourists retreated by 7.8 percent annually in the first half of 2012. The number of arriving passengers reached 1,397,000 in the first half of 2012, driven mainly by arrivals of Lebanese expatriates and to a somewhat lesser extent by those of Arab origin, who since mid-May 2012 have scaled back their visits to Lebanon. However, the number of incoming passengers is still on the rise, and this has had a positive impact on hotel occupancy, as well as domestic consumption.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 25, 2012, on page 5.