Several hospitality stakeholders across Lebanon have reportedly noticed a positive impact on occupancy rates from Saudi nationals since a travel advisory was lifted by KSA earlier in 2019.
The Phoenicia Hotel and Gefinor Rotana were among the hotels who revealed the lifting of the travel advisory in February 2019 from Saudi Arabia meant GCC nationals "could return" to Lebanon this summer.
Gefinor Rotana’s general manager Gilbert Zeait told news publication Executive the number of visitors from the Gulf—and specifically from KSA—has increased so far in the year.
“The effect of the lifting of travel restrictions was felt to some extent when it first occurred in February, but we can talk of a significant impact to tourism in mid-April when there were school holidays in KSA,” said Zeait.
Zeait added that Gefinor Rotana is at 50% occupancy for June—already an increase when compared to the same period in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Phoenicia Hotel’s cluster director of sales and marketing Tracey Bolton said its royal and presidential suites—favoured by Saudi nationals who were visiting Lebanon before the travel advisory—are being frequently booked again.
“We’ve had support from the KSA market in the past five years—we’ve been lucky that way—but it hasn’t been from the big spenders, so now the average rate is intrinsically increasing again because they have started to come back and book these big suites,” said Bolton.
Prior to the lifting of the travel advisory, Saudi nationals had been warned against travel to Lebanon for almost seven years, which resulted in a drop in tourism numbers from the Kingdom.