The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that Lebanon’s tourism industry will contribute $4.3 billion to the country’s economy in 2012, equivalent to around 10 percent of GDP.

Direct employment in the sector would reach 129,500 jobs, representing 9.5 percent of total employment in Lebanon this year, the study added.

WTTC expected the sector’s direct contribution to the economy to grow by 4.5 percent in real terms in 2012 and its direct contribution to employment to rise by 3 percent this year, as reported by Byblos Bank’s weekly newsletter.

Since tourism touches all sectors of the economy, its real direct and indirect impact is even greater. WTTC forecasts tourism will generate $15.5 billion or 35.5 percent of overall economic activity in Lebanon in 2012, including 461,000 jobs representing 33.8 percent of total employment in 2012.

It expected the sector’s overall contribution to GDP to increase in real terms by 4.4 percent this year and its aggregate contribution to employment to grow by 2.8 percent in 2012.

The WTTC expected Lebanon to rank in 69th place globally in terms of the forecasted growth of the sector’s total and direct contribution to GDP in 2012, in 67th place in terms of the forecast growth rate of the sector’s total contribution to employment, and in 157th place in terms of the industry’s direct contribution to employment in 2012.

It projected the travel and tourism economy in Lebanon to grow by 3.2 percent per year in real terms between 2012 and 2022, compared to 4.2 percent in the Middle East and 4.1 percent globally over the same period of time.

The tourism industry’s direct contribution is expected to grow by 3 percent per year in real terms during the 2012-2022 period compared to a 4.1 percent real growth rate for both the Middle East and the world.

Lebanon ranks in 127th place worldwide in terms of the sector’s annualized growth rate over the 2012-22 period and in 135th place in terms of the expected growth of the sector’s direct contribution to GDP over the coming 10 years

As for employment forecasts, the WTTC projected the tourism industry to reach 136,000 jobs or 8.9 percent of total jobs in Lebanon by 2022. Employment in the tourism economy is expected to total 448,000 jobs, equivalent to 32 percent of total employment by 2022.

In comparison, the WTTC forecast direct industry employment in the Middle East to grow by 2.4 percent over the 2012 to 2022 period and to account for 2.9 percent of total employment, while it forecast the tourism economy employment to grow by 2.5 percent and to account for 7.6 percent of total employment in the region.

Lebanon ranks in 152nd place in terms of the expected growth of the sector’s total contribution to employment and in 157th place in terms of its direct contribution to employment over the coming 10 years.