Emiratis busy planning trips to Lebanon
Dubai - Many Emiratis who spoke to Khaleej Times said the lifting of the two-year long travel restriction will open huge potential for tourism.
Lebanon is all set to become the new holiday hotspot for Emiratis as the UAE has lifted the travel ban on its citizens for travelling to the Levantine destination.
Many Emiratis who spoke to Khaleej Times said the lifting of the two-year long travel restriction will open huge potential for tourism.
"I have never been to Lebanon. But I am definitely making the plan for a weekend visit soon," said Emirati Khalid Farooq. "There are many people who were yearning to go to Lebanon for holidays or for a weekend getaways. But they were forced to choose other destination instead.
Now, you will see a huge rush to Lebaon," said Farooq.
Gulf states, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain in November 2017, had banned their citizens from travelling to Lebanon in the light of increasing Hezbollah influence in the political reign of the country.
Fahed Ali Naji, an Emirati IT manager said he is 'so happy' that the travel ban to Lebanon is lifted.
"Lebanon was known as the Switzerland of the East. I have great memories of the country as I used to go for skiing in the mountains of Lebanon with my wife."
Naji said he is rescheduling his annual travelling plan so as to pack in a skiing holiday in Lebanon.
For Emirati fashion designer Freayal Al Bastaki, "this is great news".
"I did my last fashion show in Beirut in 2009. I would love to have another one soon."
"I am really excited. Beirut is the fashion capital of the region. Some of the best fashion designers come from Lebanon. Lebanese people are very talented and fashionable. So, opening up between these two countries will immensely benefit the fashion industry."
Al Bastaki says Lebanon is her favourite destination not just for work.
"As a family we used to go to Lebanon at least twice a year. For most Emiratis, Lebanon is the first holiday destination of choice."
With tickets to Beirut selling like hotcakes, travel agents are also cashing in on the tourism potential.
"Lebanon is a great destination because of its geographical variety, cosmopolitan flair, eclectic gastronomy. We will be introducing attractive tour packages to Lebanon as we see a surge in demand," said Lakshmi Anand, manager - travel and tours at International Travel Services (ITS).
According to figures released by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, over 375,000 tourists visited the country in the first quarter of 2019. Most popular destinations include Beirut, Byblos, Baalbek and Tyre.
Hemali Shah, managing director of City One Tourism and Travel, said: "Beirut entering this list of travel destinations has widen the choice for customers. With a history of 5,000 years, archaeological sites in the downtown, museums, medical tourism, night life, Beirut is surely a destination for both Arab and the Western travellers."
Shah said the short distance between Beirut and UAE also makes it a preferred destination as "UAE market majorly comprises of last moment holiday planners."