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Monday, April 21, 2008

Hezbollah's Victory: The gift to Lebanon that keeps on giving

According to a recent survey, Hassan Nasrallah is the most popular figure in the Arab world, and with good reason. Hezbollah's great victory in the summer of 2006 has borne many fruit. Lebanese have buried over a thousand dead, though most were Hezbollah so that was not all bad news. Lebanese have not finished repairing billions of dollars worth of damage from the war. But the best fruit of victory is the gift that keeps on giving - the war scared the tourists away. Lebanese are very grateful to Hezbollah because, as the Daily Star headline tells us :
BEIRUT: The occupancy rate in Beirut hotels was 35 percent in 2007, down from 50 percent in 2006, said the benchmark annual survey of the Middle East hotel sector by Ernst & Young, as reported by Byblos Bank's Lebanon This Week. The occupancy rate in Beirut was the lowest among 19 markets in the region in 2007, as it was in the previous year, and Beirut posted the steepest annual drop in the region, the report said.
The survey said average rate per room at Beirut hotels was $140 last year, ranking the capital's hotels as the 12th-most expensive in the region ahead of Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Amman in Jordan and all markets in Egypt.
The average rate per room at Beirut hotels declined by 19 percent year-on-year and posted the second-steepest drop among all markets in the region after Amman, which declined by 28 percent year-on-year.
The average rate per room in Beirut came below the regional average of $196.5, which jumped by 17 percent from $168 in 2006.
Occupancy rates at Beirut hotels were 26.4 percent in January 2007 and 27.8 percent in February, and then rose to 41 percent in March and 56.2 percent in April before dropping to 47 percent in May and 21 percent in June. It increased to 41 percent in July and 47 percent in August, but remained below the normal rates during the peak summer months of June to August.

Occupancy dropped further to 37 percent in September and rose slightly to 40 percent in October before declining to 34 percent in November. But occupancy increased to 47 percent in December due to the peak holiday season, but still came below traditional rates for the time of the year.
Further, revenues per available room were $49 in Beirut in 2007, down from $87 in the previous year, ranking it in 17th place in the region, ahead of only Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Beirut's revenues were down 43.8 percent from the previous year, posting the sharpest decline among the 19 regional markets, compared to a rise of 16.8 percent across the region.
Beirut, Amman, Doha and Medina were the only markets to report revenue-per-room declines last year. Dubai posted the highest occupancy rate in the Middle East at 88 percent in 2007, while Kuwait posted the region's highest average room rate at $535. - The Daily Star
Hezbollah is also responsible for the permanent deadlock in Lebanese politics, which has left Lebanon without a president. No wonder everyone in the Arab world loves Hassan Nasrallah!
Ami Isseroff

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