BEIRUT: Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon announced Saturday the start of the seaside tourism season from the coastal city of Jounieh, north of Beirut.
During the event, which was held at the Bel Azur Hotel in Jounieh, the minister said the improvement witnessed in Lebanon’s security is encouraging Gulf tourists to come back to Lebanon.
“We have witnessed improvement in the number of tourists arriving in the past few days and are ready to receive them,” he said.
“Gulf tourists are now ready to come back to Lebanon,” he added.
Lebanon’s tourism sector declined over the past several years due to local and regional instability. Gulf countries had issued travel advisories warning their citizens against visiting Lebanon.
Pharaon estimated the decline in the number of tourists between 2010 and 2013 to be nearly 700,000 visitors.
“The number of tourists in Lebanon in 2010 exceeded 2 million visitors, while we only had about a 1.3 million visitors in 2013,” he said.
The event, attended by several officials and dignitaries, saw the graduation of a new batch of life guards.
The minister said the clean safety record of Lebanon's resorts was thanks to their owners, and indicated that the Lebanese tourism sector was up to international standards.