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The business of… Beirut

Despite infrastructure challenges, a hefty national debt, and Lebanon’s $4 billion deficit, the business of Beirut is booming.

June 28, 2010 10:48 by

Tourism

The country posted the world’s highest growth rate of tourist arrivals in 2009, as an estimated 1.8 million tourists descended on the tiny nation of only 4 million inhabitants, bringing direct and indirect economic benefit to the country.

“By some estimates, tourism will bring $4 to $5 billion directly into the economy, make up 13% of gross domestic production, and another $7 to 8 billion indirectly,” according to Dr. Marcus Marktanner, of the American University of Beirut.  These billions in tourist receipts are helping float the budget and finance nation’s sizeable public debt, all of which has not escaped the notice of policy makers, who upped the tourism ministry’s budget three-fold this year, to $3 million.

Ranked a top destination for 2009, the New York Times says Beirut is “poised to reclaim its title as the Paris of the Middle East.” Upping the “luxury quotient” are high-end hotels like the Four Seasons, The Phoenicia, Le Gray, and endless fine dining venues. Amidst the contemporary high rises of downtown, Beirut offers upscale shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, alongside the ruins of the Roman Baths, mosques, and cathedrals.

 

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