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Tourist traffic at Beirut airport down 40 pct since 2010

File - Travelers push their luggage at the arrival terminal at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Tourist arrivals at the Beirut airport dropped 6.6 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year and 40 percent on a cumulative basis since 2010, according to figures released by the Tourism Ministry Friday.

The number of tourists had peaked in 2010 at more than 2 million visitors but has since declined to reach 1,274,362 visitors in 2013. The decline is largely attributed to sporadic security incidents, including a series of bombings, that have wracked the country since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

Hotels in Beirut have been suffering from low occupancy rates compared to previous years with many incurring heavy losses in 2013 and laying off employees.

Travel warnings from Gulf countries advising their citizens not to visit Lebanon in view of security threats have led to a drop in the number Saudi tourists, with only 40,958 arriving in 2013, compared to 150,000 in 2010.

Iraqi tourists topped the list of Arab visitors with 141,986 arrivals to Beirut, followed by Jordanians at 78,000 and Egyptians at 63,000.

Europeans topped the list of all visitors despite the deteriorating security situation, with close to half a million tourist arriving to Beirut last year.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 25, 2014, on page 4.

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