Sept. 11 fallout proving boon for Lebanese tourism

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

BROUMMANA, Lebanon -- It's evening and this mountain resort is filled with wealthy Persian Gulf Arabs, some strolling with their wives and children, others shopping and still others puffing away at water pipes in sidewalk cafes.

While Lebanon has always been a prime draw for Arab tourists, industry officials say more Arabs are taking their holidays here and in other Mideastern spots because they fear hassles in the West following Sept. 11.

"The Americans and Europeans look down on us because of our looks and Arabic names. The discrimination after the Sept. 11 events is unbearable," said Majed Abdullah, a 53-year-old Kuwaiti businessman.

Abdullah, who was having coffee with his wife and two boys in a cafe, said he had thought of taking the family to Europe this year but decided to spend a month in Lebanon instead. "I don't want my kids to be subjected to Western racism," he said.

Civil Aviation chief Hamdi Shouq said Lebanon expected to receive around 1 million airline passengers during the June-September high season, the most in a decade and almost twice as many as were recorded by the Beirut airport last summer.

"Flights are fully booked and many airlines ... have decided to double or triple the number of flights," he told The Associated Press.

In the first four months of this year, the number of Arab tourists increased 10 percent from the same period of 2001 and 44 percent from the year before that.

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