Beirut hotel occupancy hits high during Eid
BEIRUT: Most of the hotels in Beirut and Mount Lebanon reported a brisk business during Eid al-Fitr but did not expect this trend to continue too long. “Our rooms were fully booked during the first two days of Eid al-Fitr,” the head of the reservations desk at Coral Beach Hotel in Jnah told The Daily Star.
He said that reservations on Aug. 28 and before the beginning of Eid stood at 70 percent, while occupancy was much less in the holy month of Ramadan, when most of the visitors were Europeans coming in groups and not Arabs.
“Arabs have only started to come during Eid,” he said.
His remarks were echoed by Elie Mahfouz, who works on the reservations desk at Mayflower Hotel in Hamra. “Europeans were our main visitors during Ramadan and the occupancy rate reached only 40 percent but it hit 100 percent starting the first day of Eid al-Fitr,” he said. Mahfouz expects this rate to remain fixed until Sept. 15.
Comments made by Beirut hotels’ were confirmed by Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud, who said that occupancy rates in Beirut hotels reached 100 percent during Eid al-Fitr but that they are expected to go down by the end of the first week of September.
“Occupancy rates this week stand at 100 percent in Beirut hotels but I don’t really expect a great improvement in the tourism activity following Eid al-Fitr and until the end of this year due to the turmoil prevailing in the region,” he told The Daily Star.
The Lebanese tourism sector has been hard hit since the beginning of the security and political turmoil in Syria, as most of the Arab tourists visit Lebanon by land via Syria.
“Tourism by land has dropped by around 80 percent during the past few months due to the security problems in Syria,” said Abboud.
Abboud has on many occasions announced that his ministry is trying to solve this issue by starting with low cost flights. “We are trying our best to start with low cost flights because, to be honest with you, this is the only solution we have,” he said.
This idea of starting with low cost flights was floated in the past couple of months after the tourism season in Lebanon witnessed a 65 percent drop in tourists coming by land, according to a statement made by Abboud during the month of July to the Voice of Lebanon Radio Station.
“We lost 21,000 Jordanian tourists and more than 20,000 Iranian tourists last month,” Abboud said, noting on the other hand a 12 percent rise in European and U.S. tourist arrivals.
Source: The Daily Star
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