From June to early September, Lebanon’s tourism sector experienced an exceptional performance. There has been a remarkable rebound in attendance, with a continuous return of international visitors, marking the summer season. The summer of 2023 has seen a noticeable boom in tourists, especially European, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Iraqi travelers, with a significant increase in attendance in August.
According to initial assessments, this inbound tourism generated revenue of about $3.8 billion, compared to $3.5 billion in the 2022 summer season and $1.2 billion in 2021.
The summer season of 2023 (June-August) saw a 31% increase in passenger count compared to 2022, according to Jean Abboud, president of the Union of Travel Agency Owners, who described the result as “excellent.” He estimated that 2 million tourists (excluding expats) will visit Lebanon from January to December 2023, including the year-end holidays.
The Federation of Tourism Unions and the Hoteliers’ Union, Pierre Achkar, considers the hotel season satisfactory. The occupancy rate of hotels in the capital was reasonable, and that of hotels outside Beirut was even better. However, he believes that the figures are unreliable at the moment. Depending on the region and the establishment, hotels were filled between 25% and 40%.
Experts point out that traditional hotels in Lebanon are no longer in demand among expatriates and tourists. They now prefer staying in guest houses or charming hotels. Traditional hotels are declining, while guest houses and small hotels are growing. Additionally, Airbnb has captured a significant portion of the market.
Lebanon guest houses have also seen a tenfold increase in success, with full occupancy throughout the season. In summary, the summer of 2023 was exceptional for the Lebanese tourism industry, with strong national and international attendance. These results demonstrate the industry’s resilience and ability to attract visitors despite its challenges.