Tourism authorities in Lebanon had feared a drastic decline in the number of visitors to Lebanese resorts this season after the violent clashes in May between Palestinian commandos and the Lebanese army.
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Background: Tourism authorities in Lebanon had feared a drastic decline in the number of visitors to Lebanese resorts this season after the violent clashes in May between Palestinian commandos and the Lebanese army.
In fact, the tourist industry was not as badly affected as at first feared -- the major proportion of tourists are from other Arab states (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria) and they have still come.
But Western tourists, shying away from possible violence and disruption of largely package tours, are much fewer this year than last.
Large touring organisation from Germany, for instance, have cancelled their tour-stops in Lebanon.
The Western tourists are a large source of income for the big hotels in and around Beirut -- the "professionals" of tourism -- while Arab tourists usually rent accommodation and provide their own food and services.
Arab tourists form the Persian Gulf area, usually go to Beirut and the nearby mountain resorts of Lebanon to get the twin advantages of better climate and families language and customs. And they are steady customers, often staying for three months, during the more unbearable whether in their countries.
Although some problems have been caused by the closing of Syria's border with Lebanon, authorities are hoping to get over a million tourists again this year, just down from the 1972 total of 1,200,000.
Hopes are expressed that a continued stability in Lebanon may mean that Western tourists can be enticed back.
SYNOPSIS: Beirut is not just a commercial and political capital, but also the tourism centre of lebanon and a large part of the Arab World. It's a haven for people from around the Persian Gulf and a stop on many major Western tours.
But this season, the fears of tourism officials have ben partly confirmed. The clashes last May between Palestinian commandos and Lebanese troops have caused a drop in Western tourist business.
Generally, the large part of Lebanon's tourists income is from neighboring countries -- people spending as much as three months in the better climate of the Lebanese mountains. But Western tourists -- especially on the conducted tours out of Europe, are a large source of income for the luxury hotels and resorts on the Mediterranean. Large tour operators, fearing instability in Lebanon, have scrubbed it from their ???ineries.
About one point two million tourists visited Lebanon in 1972, Despite the problems, officials still hope to top one million this year.
While Western tourists stay only a short time and make up only a small part of the total, they provide a large part of the prized foreign currency. Arab tourists end to rent accommodation and settle in, buying food from groceries rather than restaurants.
Arab tourists have continued to go to Lebanon. With a return to order, ten Lebanese tourists industry hopes that Western tourists will be enticed back.