Expats flock to Lebanon despite fears of war with Israel

NNA – Expatriates flocked to Lebanon despite the international warnings against traveling to the country due to the rising tensions with Israel.

June alone witnessed the arrival of 400,000 people, the majority of whom are expatriates.

General Director of Civil Aviation Fadi al-Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the number of arrivals is almost similar to the figures recorded last year.

As of June 24, 363,623 people arrived at Rafik Hariri International Airport, or around 10,000 and 16,000 people per day. The arrivals in June 2023 stood at 427,355.

ldquo;The recent tensions have not affected the number of arrivals,rdquo; al-Hassan added, noting: ldquo;We havenrsquo;t even reached the peak period of activity at the airport.rdquo;

France, home to tens of thousands of Lebanese expats, issued a travel warning against heading to Lebanon in April. The advisory did not deter Elie N. from traveling to Lebanon where he will stay for the next two months.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said he and hundreds of thousands of expatriates have been waiting impatiently for the summer to spend their vacation in their homeland.

ldquo;The constant threats of war will not stop us from visiting Lebanon,rdquo; he stressed.

President of the Syndicate of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon Jean Abboud said activity at the airport should peak starting July 4 and 5.

He predicted that hotels will reach full capacity and the arrivals will top 12,000 ndash; 13,000 per day. Beirut airport will receive 80 to 85 flights a day.

Lebanonrsquo;s Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily cross-border strikes since the Oct. 7 attacks that launched the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, and they have been escalating gradually.

The Israeli army said last week that it has ldquo;approved and validatedrdquo; plans for an offensive in Lebanon, although any decision would come from the countryrsquo;s political leaders. — Asharq Al-Awsat