People shop in Beirut Souks, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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While the festive season has lifted occupancy rates for hotels in Beirut, shops in the capital have not benefitted from the holidays, with sales recording a decline compared to the same period in previous years, merchants told The Daily Star.Chammas added that Lebanon needs to attract Lebanese expats and Gulf tourists to spend the holidays in Lebanon.The total number of Arab tourists has increased by 9.7 percent in the first nine months of the year, after having dropped 18.1 percent during the same period of 2013 .Rahal said Gulf tourists were absent this year and even Lebanese are no longer buying the same quantities.Chammas' remarks were echoed by Bilal Halabi, owner of the Ponte Vecchio clothing store in Hamra who said that Lebanese consumers had reduced their purchases remarkably this year compared to previous years.Mustafa Jawad, owner of Tresor shop in Hamra, said he paid $3,000 rental fees per month for his shop.Chammas argued that it while was previously hard to find vacant shops in Beirut but they are readily available nowadays.
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