Saudi Arabia lifts travel advisory

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Saudi Arabia has lifted a travel advisory warning its citizens against traveling to Lebanon, said Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Walid al-Bukhari, following a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail.

The decision was made after Saudi Arabia received assurances over the stable security situation in the country.

“Given the fact that the security reasons that called on Saudi Arabia to warn its citizens against traveling to Lebanon no longer exist, and based on the assurances that the kingdom received from the government about the stability of the security situation, and its permanent keenness on the safety of Saudi citizens, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia lifts its warning to its citizens traveling to Lebanon,” Bukhari said.

Tourism officials welcomed the news.

“The decision will revive the tourism sector in all its segments including hotels, restaurants, car rentals, and others. It will also positively affect other sectors, such as agriculture and real estate,” said Pierre Achkar, Chairman of the Lebanese Federation for Tourism.

“Once the Saudi government takes such a decision, Saudis will be encouraged to come back, especially because they have investments and thousands of properties in the country,” Achkar said.

“Saudi tourists are critical to our tourism, as they stay in the country for at least 15 days on average. Tourists from other Arab countries were also visiting in high numbers, but didn’t stay as long as Gulf tourists,” Achkar said.

Three years ago, Saudi Arabia advised its citizens against traveling to Lebanon, and urged those already in the country to leave.

Tourism officials as well as economic groups worked behind the scenes to convince Saudis to return. “We showed the Gulf governments in numbers that the country was impacted negatively from these decisions,” Achkar said.

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