Source: Lebanon Daily Star

A new 700-passenger cruise ship will enter service early next month, Abou Merhi Lines announced Thursday during a meeting with Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud.

In a statement after the meeting, Abboud said marine tourism should play a bigger role in attracting visitors to Lebanon. He said the cruise ship would encourage additional operators to run trips to Beirut Port.

Merhi Abou Merhi, CEO of the cruise operator, said the cruise ship would operate on a line covering Limassol, Rhodes, Mykonos, Bodrum and Marmaris. Abou Merhi said the line would boost Lebanon’s position both as a destination and base of tourism in the Mediterranean region.

Meanwhile in a separate meeting, Abboud said the number of tourists entering Lebanon in the first five months did not decline significantly from 2011 levels. “We have only witnessed a very minor decline,” he said.

Abboud said tourists from four Gulf Cooperation Countries, which issued warnings to their citizens against visiting Lebanon last month, represent less than 10 percent of the total number of visitors.

“But these tourists have high spending capacity and are the main shoppers in Lebanon,” he added. Abboud said he would be discussing lifting the travel warnings during a visit to the UAE Monday.

Tags: beirut