Lebanon’s economy has suffered a severe blow due to the unrest sweeping the country, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry Mohammad Choucair said Tuesday, warning of potential bankruptcies in the private sector.
“A quick look at some numbers proves the severity of the blow that the economy has suffered,” Choucair said in a statement, noting that hotel bookings have declined by 90 percent compared to last year. He added that hotels in Beirut were only 20 percent full, with bookings in other areas at just 10 to 15 percent of capacity. Choucair said that financial activity at shopping malls was down by 50 percent, combined with a decline in foreign investment, particularly from Arab and Gulf investors.
Hotels reported 30 percent cancelations last week after a spate of kidnappings and threats against Arab Gulf citizens. Further threats prompted the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to advise their citizens to leave Lebanon, while Kuwait has evacuated most of its nationals.
Choucair warned that some private companies were close to bankruptcy, particularly those in tourism and trade-related businesses, placing the fate of thousands of workers and institutions at stake.
“Everyone was waiting for the summer season to reactivate the economy, which would have allowed some institutions to compensate for losses incurred following events earlier in the year,” he said. “The severity of this period requires everyone to speak the truth and to exert to pressure to distance Lebanon from everything around us and to place the interest of the country and its people above all other considerations.”