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Restaurants were thriving, luxury hotels were being built, and visitor arrivals were at an all-time high in 2010, but violence in neighboring Syria has kept tourists and locals at home even more so than Lebanon’s own 15-year civil war.
Lebanon is slashing airfares and hotel rates this week in to revive its tourism industry, which is reeling from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
Middle East Airlines, the national carrier, is offering discounts of up to 50 per cent on selected packages for a 50-day period starting on Tuesday, while Fadi Abboud, the minister for tourism, says he has asked local politicians to tone down their rhetoric while the promotion is on. “We’re trying to change the mood,” he explains.
The government-led discount campaign reflects how the conflict in Syria has hurt tourism in Lebanon, which depends on direct and indirect revenues from the sector for more than a quarter of its gross domestic product.