BEIRUT: A group representing tourism-related businesses in Lebanon said Monday swift steps were needed to remedy the problems facing the sector.
The appeal to caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati came in an open letter from Jean Beiruti, the secretary-general of the Association of Tourist Organizations and the head of the Association of Tourist Resorts Owners.
Beiruti urged Mikati to call for an urgent meeting of the Higher Tourism Council “after the tourism sector reached a catastrophic situation.”
He said the meeting would focus on the possibility of opening new markets and ways to develop effective mechanisms in order to avoid a further decline in the tourism sector.
The letter said that while the industry had contributed 22 percent of national income between 2009 and 2010, it had fallen at present by 5 percent.
It said Eid al-Fitr, which in previous years had seen hotel occupancy at full capacity for the two-week holiday, reached 70 percent for only two days this year which it said represented “a $40 million decline in tourism revenues.”
“We feel that [the tourism sector] has become neglected, screaming in a valley without an echo,” the letter said.
It said Lebanese expatriates and Gulf visitors were avoiding travel to Lebanon.