Movement in restaurants during Ramadan and holidays is shy

Like other sectors, the restaurant sector suffers under the weight of the local political, economic, social and financial crises. The percentage of those who go to restaurants has decreased significantly, and restaurants have lost the middle class, which is the main engine and dynamo of the sector, due to the sharp decline in purchasing power and the scarcity of liquidity in light of the reservation of funds in banks and the complete lack for the psychological factor.

During the month of Ramadan, restaurants were in the past crowded with diners who wanted to eat the good thing known about the Lebanese restaurant, which was a destination for Arab and foreign tourists, in addition to expatriates and Lebanese citizens. Citizens also declined the breakfasts of companies and institutions, which were very high.

It is known that the restaurant sector is one of the pillars of tourism in Lebanon, which used to constitute 25% of the national income in Lebanon and is considered one of the most important sources of income in the state treasury and a pillar of the national economy.

The tourism sector used to generate about 8 billion dollars a year for Lebanon, and this figure was achieved in 2009 and more than 9 billion in 2010, and in 2016 it fell to 5 billion dollars, but now, in light of the scarcity of the dollar, it has become less than one billion dollars.”

Will tourism return to its former glory as a beacon to the East and Lebanon to return to the Switzerland of the East as it was before?

We all hope that Lebanon and tourism in it will return to its previous era. We hope that political, security and economic stability will be achieved, and that its relations with the Gulf countries will return to what they were before. Perhaps the return of the Saudi and Kuwaiti ambassadors will give a sign of hope and the return of Arab tourists, especially since the Arab tourist is the wealth of Lebanon.

To shed light on this issue, Sawt Beirut International had this conversation with the head of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes and Nightclubs and Patisserie Tony Al-Rami, who said that although the catering sector is in a state of crisis management and proving its existence and steadfastness, we are loyal to Lebanon and the catering sector still provides the quality, quality and service required to raise the name and image And the identity of Lebanon in the region and the world through the Lebanese cuisine in addition to the foreign kitchens.

He revealed that the movement of iftars this year was weak and below average due to the decline in the purchasing power of citizens, as well as the absence of iftars by companies and institutions, which were many previously, pointing out that the movement of cafes in Suhoor is good to very good, as the Suhoor meal is cheaper than breakfast.

Al-Rami stressed that tourism needs security and political stability in order to return to prosperity and for Lebanon to return as a destination for Arab and foreign tourists.

He pointed out that the return of the Kuwaiti and Saudi ambassadors is very important, a positive sign and a gesture of goodwill, but so far it has not been translated into the reality in the sector, as we have not yet seen the return of Arab tourists to Lebanon who are the wealth of Lebanon. It is very noteworthy that no matter how we try to open new markets, the main market remains the Arab market.

Al-Rami explained that the restaurant sector is dollarized by 60 to 7%, while other productive sectors are dollarized by 100%, noting that the bill for a five-star restaurant, which was 60 dollars, has become 40 dollars, and the hookah price was 10 dollars, today it has become 4 dollars.

Al-Rami regretted that the sector lost the middle class, which is the dynamo of the sector, pointing out that the tourism components are not available from reserved liquidity and a decline in purchasing power.

Also, the psychological factor plays a role in the people not going to restaurants, as well as being preoccupied with the parliamentary elections, knowing that we do not witness parties and ceremonies during the election period as before.

Regarding the festive season, he explained that we did not see any movement of expatriates or citizens, hoping that next summer the movement will be very good at the regional level, as there will be a very active tourist movement in guest houses, restaurants, swimming pools, and sea resorts, as well as in the mountains.

I am sorry that Beirut is still a stricken city full of darkness. Unfortunately, we are talking about a homeland without a capital, which used to contain 10 five-star hotels, hoping that there will be a ray of light for some Iraqi, Egyptian and Jordanian tourists, in addition to the Lebanese expatriate, who will be the main player this summer, in addition to domestic tourism. .

He expected that the summer season, through reservations and available indicators, would be a positive season for tourism in Lebanon. The sector is determined to survive.

He stressed that the summer season will give an oxygen dose to tourism in Lebanon, expecting that the tourism sector’s income will be between one and a half billion and two billion if there is no security surprise or any factor contrary to our expectations.