BEIRUT: Preliminary figures issued by the United Nations World Tourism Organization indicate that Lebanon posted the 22nd highest growth rate in tourist arrivals in the world during 2010 with a 17.6 percent increase from the previous year.
Lebanon ranks in 12th place worldwide in terms of tourist arrivals, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.
In comparison, tourist arrivals grew by 6.7 percent globally, by 5.3 percent in advanced economies and by 8.2 percent in emerging markets. Regionally, tourist arrivals increased by 14 percent in the Middle East and rose by 5.8 percent in North Africa. They increased by 6.4 percent in Africa, by 3.2 percent in Europe, by 7.7 percent in the Americas, and by 12.6 percent in Asia and the Pacific.
Globally, Lebanon tied with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It ranked ahead of Papua New Guinea and Kiribati, which posted growth rates of 17.5 percent each, and came behind Egypt, which posted a 17.9 percent increase in tourist arrivals. Regionally, Lebanon was the fifth-fastest growing tourism market, coming ahead of Saudi Arabia, which posted a rise of 13.3 percent in tourist arrivals, Morocco (11.5 percent), the U.A.E. (9 percent), Turkey (5.8 percent), Cyprus (1.8 percent), and Tunisia (-0.3 percent). Lebanon came behind Egypt (17.9 percent), Jordan (23 percent), Palestine (35.3 percent), and Syria (42.5 percent).
The World Tourism Organization projected tourist arrivals to grow between 4 percent and 5 percent globally and by 7 percent to 10 percent in the Middle East in 2011.
In parallel, the WTO said tourism receipts in Lebanon totaled $6.8 billion in 2009, up 16.4 percent from 2008 and constituting the second highest growth rate in the Arab world and the highest when excluding countries with tourism receipts of less than $1 billion. Further, Lebanon ranked in 34th place globally in terms of tourism receipts in 2009, behind Taiwan ($6.81 billion) and ahead of Morocco ($6.6 billion); while it ranked third regionally behind Egypt ($10.8 billion) and the U.A.E. ($7.4 billion).
In parallel, Lebanon This Week reported that a total of 877,909 persons used hotels and furnished apartments in Lebanon and spent 2,106,277 nights in such facilities in 2010, constituting increases of 14.1 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, from 2009 figures.
As a result, clients stayed an average of 2.4 nights per person last year compared to 2.54 nights in 2009 and 2.29 nights in 2008. The 2010 figures, which are compiled by the Tourism Ministry, constitute a new peak in visitors and nights spent, but reflect a slowdown in growth from 2009, when the number of persons who used hotels and furnished apartments grew by 21.2 percent and the number of nights spent increased by 34.7 percent.
Visitors came from 166 countries and spent a total of $126.4 million in 2010 on lodging in hotels and furnished apartments, a decline of 38 percent from $203.4 million in 2009, and compared to $87 million in 2008, $59 million in 2007 and $69 million in 2006. Arab nationals, including Lebanese citizens, accounted for 69.8 percent of total clients and of 64.5 percent of aggregate nights in 2010, down from 73.4 percent of total clients and 70.2 percent of aggregate nights in 2009, and 74.4 percent of total clients and 70.6 percent of aggregate nights spent in 2008.
The distribution of clients by country at hotels and furnished apartments indicates that Lebanon accounted for 171,409 clients, or 19.5 percent of the total, down from 23.5 percent in 2009. It was followed by Saudi Arabia with 107,888 clients (12.3 percent), Jordan with 61,917 (7.1 percent), Iraq with 56,801 (6.5 percent), Syria with 48,348 (5.5 percent) and Kuwait with 46,482 (5.3 percent). Lebanon accounted for 18 percent of the total number of nights spent, up from 16.7 percent in 2009, followed by Saudi Arabia with 11 percent, Jordan with 5.9 percent, Iraq with 5.8 percent, and Syria with 5.3 percent.
The length of stay per person for Arab nationals shows that nationals from Morocco stayed an average of 8.66 nights per person, followed by Libya (3.46), Tunisia (3.27), Oman (3.24), Algeria (2.81), Yemen (2.56), Sudan (2.52), Bahrain (2.32), Syria (2.31), Qatar (2.27), Iraq (2.16), Saudi Arabia (2.16), Egypt (2.1), Jordan and Kuwait (2 each).
The report has separate entries for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where nationals from Abu Dhabi totaled 816 and spent 1.76 nights per person, and those from Dubai reached 1,761 and spent 1.73 nights per person.
In parallel, the length of stay per person for non-Arab visitors shows that nationals from Belarus stayed an average of 40.7 nights per person, followed by Moldova (32.53), Uzbekistan (19.81), Ukraine (13.6), Kyrgyzstan (11.6) and Nicaragua (8).
The top five countries accounted for 50.8 percent of clients and 46.1 percent of total nights spent, while the top 10 countries accounted for 71.1 percent of clients and 64.4 percent of total nights spent in 2010.