Beirut-Lebanon’s tourism season is confronting the same old security crisis following reports that assailants could target tourism sites. The issue, which has become an obsession for the Lebanese and the owners of establishments, seems to have struck the high hopes that this summer will be festive.
Despite the concerns, officials have remained optimistic and have stressed that the situation is under control.
The Lebanese army’s announcement on Thursday that it has foiled two terrorist plots to target a tourist site and a heavily-populated area led to more confusion and fears – similar to last year – that the tourism season would suffer badly before its start.
In 2015, Lebanon’s waste crisis, which was accompanied by anti-government protests, negatively affected the tourism season despite indicators that it would have beeen successful.
Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, who last week announced that Lebanon’s tourism season would be fruitful, did not deny that the terrorist explosions, which shook the village of al-Qaa, brought back security fears of more attacks.
“We had high hopes that the season would be promising,” Pharaon told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. “However, without any doubt, what happened in al-Qaa raises question marks.”
The minister said he has asked establishments to be in continuous contact with the security forces and take the necessary measures, in hopes that the season would not suffer a setback similar to last year.
“We had overcome the huge deterioration in Lebanon’s tourism between 2011 and 2013 … by agreeing in 2014 on containing the security situation,” Pharaon told the newspaper.
“Yet what is new this year is the terrorist threat that comes from outside the country and which is similar to threats made to other countries and capitals,” he said.
Pharaon hoped that hotel reservations would remain high and stressed confidence in security forces, which have proven more than once their ability to control the security situation.
The tourism minister had previously announced that the month of May witnessed good tourism activity and enjoyed more than 17 percent of growth.
Rumors about possible terrorist bombings began several weeks ago. They intensified when suicide bombers struck al-Qaa earlier in the week.