Sidon is almost a six thousand year old city in Lebanon which reaped benefit this summer from the international tourism boom, whereby tourists flocked to the city rich with its historical links. The National News Agency reported that the “caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian” commented that in 2018 Lebanon witnessed a rise in the number of tourists visiting the country, especially from Europe.
According to Guidanian, the increment in international tourism seen in Lebanon is due to the tour packages offered by the tourism and travel companies in the U.K., Germany and France. Furthermore, it has been reported that tourists from India, Egypt, the U.K., France, and Thailand come to the city of Sidon drawn by its historic background which is now packed with restaurants, while “artisanal crafts and local sweets” are popular take aways.
In the words of François Gillier, a tourist from France: “Lebanon is beautiful and Beirut is vibrant, but Sidon is a history book itself”. Gillier visited Lebanon in a family vacation, whereby covering places like Jbeil, Sidon, Tyre and Beirut. In the first five months of 2018, nearly 656,444 tourists’ arrivals have been recorded, while the BankMed informed that the said number shows a one percent increment in the respective figures from the previous year.
BankMed used the data provided by the Ministry of Tourism and revealed that more than “235,000 European tourists” visiting Lebanon, whereby marking a 12.3% increment compared to its last year’s respective figures which is also the “highest jump recorded between consecutive years in the first five months”.
In 2017, more than “1.8 million” tourists’ visit to Lebanon has been recorded which according to Guidanian is the “highest” over a span of fifty years. Meanwhile, Ahmad Abou Zohr, owner of a wooden handicrafts’ business, confirmed that there is a particular “rise” in the number of tourists in the region especially over the weekends.
Moreover, tourists also get to wrap keffiyehs around their heads and don traditional clothes in the old Sidon market, while Abou Rami, a souvenir seller, remarked that the tourists purchase the local products and crafts and in turn contribute towards the regional economic growth.
The city also witnessed two sold-out concerts of artist Julia Boutros wherein thousands of visitors attended over the weekend. For each of the shows that took place on Saturday and Sunday respectively, more than “10,000 tickets” were sold. And the Deputy Mayor Salah Sabrawi of Tyre remarked: “Because of the concert, all hotels and restaurants in the area are booked. There isn’t a single hotel room available. Even furnished apartments are all booked.”