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Lebanon: tourists seemingly undeterred by trash crisis

Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies, denied claims that the trash crisis in Lebanon has discouraged tourists from coming to the country this summer.

Speaking to the Central News Agency, Abboud said that contrary to these claims, there were solid bookings up to the month of September.

“If that happens [cancellation of bookings], we would be the first to officially complain, especially since we are in the summer season where flights are organized carrying large numbers of passengers,” he added.

But Abboud warned that if a permanent solution is not found soon to the trash issue, then his would surely affect the tourism season.

“However, it is certain that the arrival of expatriates this year will be affected by the waste crisis if it is to continue, especially when they hear news of the burning of waste near the Beirut airport and in other areas,” Abboud said, adding that trash is no longer being dumped or burned near Rafik Hariri International Airport.

On the topic of flight bookings at the present time, Abboud said that 95 percent of bookings recorded from today until the end of September are made by Lebanese expatriates.

“The sector of the travel agencies has specifically worked with these people for four years since [their decision to visit the country is] not affected by political, security and economic conditions,” Abboud explained.

He explained that between 85 and 90 airplanes arrive at Beirut’s airport every day, carrying between 13,500 and 15,000 passengers, however this figure is based on reservations.

Abboud also noted that a significant number of Kuwaiti nationals came to Lebanon.

The Kuwaiti Embassy in Beirut Thursday urged citizens intending to travel to Lebanon to delay their plans and those in the country to take extra precautions.