Despite a security situation marked by the proliferation of regional conflicts in the Middle East, Lebanon has hosted more tourists than last year. A 4.21% increase in visits into the country, which is evidenced by recording a total of 1,018,541 arrivals in September 2014 against 977,380 a year earlier, according to a report from the Ministry of Tourism and reported by the Lebanon Brief Blom Bank.
This is the first time in four years that the number of tourists has increased since 2010, although the results are still far from the level reached by Lebanon that year, during which it had recorded nearly 1.7 million arrivals. That performance then helped to put Lebanon in the 22nd place in the ranking of the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
This performance is also part of the projected range calculated by the WTO for 2014 in its annual report released in 2013. The latter in fact indicated an increase in the number of tourists by "4 to 4.5 % globally, "but stated that these projections were based primarily on the expected performance of the sector in the Asia-Pacific region (between 5 and 6% increase). Note, however, that UNWTO's prediction on the Middle East figures had been deemed "volatile" (0-5% growth in attendance expected), given the unpredictability of regional developments, despite "positive outlook".
In detail, the increase of 4.21% was mainly led by a massive increase in the influx of Iraqi visitors. These were in fact 129,274 people who choose Lebanon as a tourist destination, an increase of 25.46% compared to the same period a year ago. Note that 39% of visitors from Arab countries this year have come from Iraq.
If Iraqis are excluded, the number of tourists to Lebanon in September recorded an increase of 1.71%, with 889,267 visitors. European tourists accounted for 33.86% of the total, i.e. 334,875 visitors. The French and the Germans occupied the top spots with 93,762 and 53,504 arrivals respectively. On the other hand, there was a 43.87% decline in the number of tourists from Turkey.