Lebanon toruism potential going abegging due to violent unrest

Published on : Sunday, March 30, 2014

download-132A while ago, the World Travel & Tourism Council published a report titled “Travel & Tourism, Economic Impact 2014, Lebanon.”


The report’s was on the expected lines.


It shows numbers indicating the importance of the tourism sector in Lebanon because tourism contributes to the national income, creates jobs, and accounts for a significant portion of the labor market.

There is nothing new in the report. This report confirms what everybody already knows about the tourism sector in the Lebanese economy.


The sector contributes a large share to GDP, making it a key economic pillar and a primary growth driver, which must be activated to restart the growth cycle and take the country out of its current stalemate.


The low growth rates of economic activity and the labor market, and the relatively low global scores, are only evidence of the cost of the political and security crises and the tensions afflicting Lebanon.
This is the cost of missed opportunities. What’s interesting is the report’s positive projections until the year 2024.


During that period, the expected growth in the long term puts Lebanon in 14th place globally, out of 183 countries covered by the study.


These projections show the large potential of this sector, where investments are being hindered by the political conditions and the inability of the ruling class to overcome them.

In fact, the tourism sector in Lebanon has a productive capacity that may exceed even those projections if one takes into account the many possibilities for development, as is the case in economically developed countries.


The tourism sector grew significantly and became more versatile. There is now medical tourism, business tourism, and even religious tourism.


All of those have a fertile ground in Lebanon if the proper environment is made for business, good governance, and an appropriate legislative framework.According to the report, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the Lebanese economy for 2014 is expected to reach $3.23 billion, which is 6.9% of total GDP.

Moreover, the direct contribution of this sector to the economy is expected to grow by 2.2%, which is modest and puts Lebanon 159th in the world in this category.

This is not surprising, especially since the growth rate expected for Lebanon, according to the most optimistic estimates, is no more than 2%.


The growth engines are almost idle because of the worsening Syrian crisis and its effect on all the security, political and economic agreements.


It should be noted that the total contribution (both direct and indirect) for the travel and tourism sector, which affects all economic sectors, is expected to be $9 billion dollars, or 19.3% of economic activity in 2014.

However, the political class is totally absent from the economic worries, and published reports by international institutions are neither read nor discussed.


Ironically, the presidential bazaar kicked off two days ago, with the start of the constitutional period to elect a new president.


There is no official candidate for the job yet, and the lack of candidates means a lack of electoral programs, including reform and economic programs.


Presidents normally come “from the outside,” i.e., through a regional settlement. As we await what the outside will do, Lebanon is stuck dreaming about reforms, which may come one day, but every day until then is a missed opportunity.



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