File - Pierre Achkar, head of the Hotel Owners Association speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Broummana, Sunday, July 28, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Beirut hotels have recorded a dismal occupancy rate of just 29.6 percent since the start of this year, and hopes for a better performance in the coming few months are non-existent, a leading hotelier said Thursday.Ashkar explained that the situation was very bad because the occupancy rate was too low compared to the current average room rate of $97.5 .Ernst & Young's benchmark survey of the Middle East hotel sector indicated that the average occupancy rate at hotels in Beirut was 52 percent in the first nine months of 2013, down from 58 percent in the same period of 2012, and far below a rate of 62.5 percent in 16 Arab markets.The occupancy rate at Beirut hotels was the third-lowest in the region in the covered period, and the fifth-lowest in the first nine months of 2012 . According to Ashkar, Lebanon's involvement in the Syrian civil war was threatening Lebanon's stability and that, in turn, was having a very negative impact on the hotel sector.Ashkar explained that hotels could not make better offers because the average price of rooms was already low.
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