25 August 2008

* Inward Remittances and Travel and Tourism Economy

Inward remittances to Lebanon at US$ 5.5 billion in 2007 as per the World Bank
In its 2008 edition of the “Migration and Remittances FactBook”, the World Bank indicated that inward remittance flow into Lebanon reached US$ 5,500 million in 2007, up by 6.2% from US$ 5,183 million in 2006 and by 11.7% from US$ 4,924 million in 2005.
It is worth noting that the flow of remittances into the country has been on an upward trajectory from the year 2000 and until 2004. The trend was interrupted in 2005 when remittances went down by 11.9%, but remained relatively high, only for it to resume its upward slope in 2006 and 2007. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of those remittances over the period 2000-2007 is at 23.1%. Looking at Lebanon’s placement among other countries in terms of remittances received, it is noticeable that the amount is quite substantial. As a matter of fact, Lebanon’s remittances are the 16th highest among 192 countries observed in the study. It came in directly after Morocco (US$ 5.7 billion), Egypt (US$ 5.9 billion), and Indonesia (US$ 6.0 billion). On the other hand it directly surpassed Poland (US$ 5.0 billion), Vietnam (US$ 5.0 billion), and Serbia and Montenegro (US$ 4.9 billion).
Remittances are an important source of external funding for the Lebanese economy as they constitute a large portion of investments in the country. Most of these remittances are channeled to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing, education and medical examinations. More recently, a large fraction of this money is being used to buy land and houses, especially that most of the remittances received by Lebanon are from expatriates who wish to return to Lebanon one day and thus want a home in the country. Most of the first and second generation Lebanese who left the country permanently have little contact with their families in Lebanon and therefore hardly send any money to Lebanon. The World Bank distinguishes between a migrant and an immigrant, noting that the former leaves his country to work abroad but eventually comes back, while the latter leaves and never comes back. The report noted that 17.4% of the Lebanese population migrated to work abroad with the top five destination countries being the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. Lebanon has the 15th highest migration rate globally and the second among 14 Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. As for the ratio of Lebanese immigrants to the country’s total population, it is at around 18.4%, the 30th highest rate worldwide and 10th highest in the MENA region.
Among the 14 MENA countries observed in the report, Lebanon ranked third in terms of remittances received, following Egypt, which ranked first with a total of US$ 5.9 billion in remittances and Morocco (US$ 5.7 billion). It came in ahead of Jordan and Algeria with US$ 2.9 billion in remittances, Tunisia (US$1.7 billion), and Yemen (US$ 1.3 billion). Lebanon’s remittances constituted 19.3% of inward remittances into the region as a whole, with the latter reaching US$ 28.5 billion in 2007. As a percentage of GDP, Lebanon had the highest share of remittances among its regional peers of 22.3% in 2007. This highlights the hefty magnitude of remittance flow into the country when looked at within the context of the country’s size, its population, and the size of its economy. Jordan had the second highest ratio of remittances to GDP in 2007 of 18.3%, followed by Morocco (7.8%).
Finally, the report classified Lebanon among middle-income countries, which totaled 96. Inward remittances into those countries amounted to US$ 179.5 billion, meaning that Lebanon’s share of those remittances was at 3.1%. In fact, Lebanon was among the top ten middle-income remittance recipients, ranking 8th ahead of Poland (US$ 5.0 billion), and Serbia and Montenegro (US$ 4.9 billion). China ranked first (US$ 25.7 billion), followed by Mexico (US$ 25.0 billion), the Philippines (US$ 17.0 billion), Romania (US$ 6.8 billion), Indonesia (US$ 6.0 billion), Egypt (US$ 5.9 billion), Morocco (5.7 billion), and then Lebanon.

Lebanon’s travel and tourism economy to generate $4.43bn this year
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimated that the travel & tourism industry would contribute directly $1.36bn to the Lebanese economy in 2008, equivalent to 5.7% of GDP, and direct industry employment will reach 80,000, representing 5.9% of total employment in Lebanon this year.
It added that, since travel & tourism (T&T) touches all sectors of the economy, its real direct and indirect impact is even greater, and forecast it will generate $4.43bn, or 18.7%, of overall economic activity in Lebanon in 2008, including 252,000 jobs, or one in every 5.4 jobs, representing 18.4% of total employment in 2008. It added that the T&T industry’s direct contribution to Lebanon’s economic activity will rise to $2.3bn, or 5.2% of GDP in 2018, while the broader T&T economy will contribute $7.5bn, or 17.1% of GDP by 2018.
The WTTC projected the T&T economy in Lebanon to grow by 2.3% per year in real terms between 2009 and 2018 compared to 3.9% in the Middle East and 4% globally over the same period of time, while the T&T direct industry will grow by 2.2% per year in real terms during the 2009-2018 period compared to 5.6% growth for the Middle East and 3.3% globally. Lebanon’s T&T economy ranked 35th among 176 countries in terms of its contribution to GDP in 2008, while it ranked in 162nd place worldwide in terms of its annualized growth rate over the 2009-2018 period.
Further, the T&T direct industry jobs are forecast to reach 85,000 or 5.3% of total jobs in Lebanon by 2018, while employment in Lebanon’s T&T economy should total 268,000 jobs overall, or one in every 5.9 jobs, equivalent to 16.8% of total employment by 2018.
In comparison, the WTTC forecast direct industry employment in the Middle East to grow by 5.6% over the 2009-18 period and to account for 3.1% of total employment, while it forecast the T&T economy employment to grow by 2.8% and to account for 9.2% of total employment in the region. Lebanon ranked 32nd worldwide in terms of the share of its T&T economy employment out of total employment, while it came in 143rd place in the real growth rate of T&T employment over the coming 10 years.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

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Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.