This historic country has always been and continues to hold a unique position throughout the Middle East as a dynamic destination offering a highly-diverse range of business opportunities for would-be investors. While it has a broad range of well-established industries, the five key sectors that have been experiencing continuous growth are Education, Medical, Tourism, F&B, Accommodation as well as Design and Manufacturing.

Despite the fact that regional/internal political and economic instability have plagued and dampened its potential growth, these conditions have also driven its various industries to seek alternative solutions that have proven exceptionally creative. Furthermore, and due to its strategic geographical location, the country offers investors many lucrative incentives and business opportunities due to its free market economy, a liberal financial environment, great investment incentives, a banking secrecy system and a non-discriminatory legal framework. In addition, and due to its moderate climate, Lebanon offers a wide variety of touristic attractions and activities all year round in natural scenery from beautiful beaches to mountains and valleys. With its ambiance of hospitality and warmth, Lebanon continues to serve as the business, cultural, academic and touristic center of the MENA region.

According to the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report, Lebanon ranks 18th for education quality, the 1st among Middle Eastern universities with 90% literacy rates, with 20% of MENA 100 company founders being Lebanese, the highest rate in the world. It also has access to 537 million people, has numerous free-trade agreements with the EU and the Arab world as well as significant US investment agreements, 4 maritime ports and direct shipping lanes to 56 ports throughout the world. Lebanon ranks 45th on soundness of bank indicators with access to numerous funding programs.

Based on figures published by the Lebanese Ministry of Industry, Lebanese Customs Authority and a recent report by BLOM Bank, the country, over the past three years, has maintained steady growth averaging 7.5% annually, due to a resilient economy favoring foreign direct investments. With a strong market potential and an increased demand for new infrastructure and tourism projects, the country is bursting with opportunities and developments. As the main Middle Eastern port on the Mediterranean, Lebanon is also the business gateway to neighboring countries in the Levant to access the rest of the world and interact with professionals across different industries. Another important factor is the weather offering a diverse range of seasonal activities and foods all year round as opposed to seasonal destinations throughout the world.

According to a report by BLOM Invest, the Lebanese tourism sector is a key driver of economic growth and job-creation. In fact, tourism’s direct contribution, which represents the economic activity generated solely by the hotels, travel agents, airlines, restaurants and tourists’ leisure places composed 6.5% of GDP (or $3.32B), creating 131,500 jobs (6.4% of total employment) in 2017 and an estimated 138,000 jobs (6.6% of employment) in 2018.

This growth is further compounded by a recent report by Global Blue, the world class tax free shopping provider, stating that tax-free spending increased by 9.5 percent in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists increased three percent in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year, reaching 853,000. European tourists topped the list (300,000), followed by Arabs (245,000), and Americans (155,000).

Based on the same BLOM Invest report, the number of passengers at Beirut International Airport hit 6.9M travelers by the end of Q3 2018, adding an annual 9.83%, the total number of tourist arrivals increased by a yearly 3.88% to reach 1.50M tourists by summer 2018. Furthermore, a government report by the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest research ranked Lebanon 36th worldwide in terms of travel and tourism’s total contribution to GDP, which maintained its level at 19.4% in 2016 (around USD  9.2 billion), exceeding by far the world’s 10.2% average.

Another positive indicator prompting further interest for would be investors is a Business Monitor International report, which states that over the long term, Lebanon still has an appeal being the commercial link between the West and the Middle East thereby attracting more investment to further enhance the performance of the F&B industry.

The F&B sector comprises the largest number of industrial establishments, with 1,219 producers accounting for 18.2 percent of the total industrial enterprises, according to ‘The Food and Beverages Sector’ published by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in Beirut (CCIAB).

In line with these findings, BMI’s forecast report on Lebanon’s F&B industry for the period 2017 -2021 expects that sector to remain resilient and most likely progress at a stable rate over the next five years. However, this specific industry, according to BLOM Invest is showing phenomenal growth in the clusters segment across Lebanon with already 8 established F&B clusters, which together hold over 70 restaurants and pubs. The success of F&B clusters is not surprising given the lifestyle of the Lebanese. In fact, F&B outings are deeply embedded in the lifestyle of the Lebanese and are one of their preferred leisure activities. It is for that reason that new concepts are almost always guaranteed a good initial outcome of visitors who are looking to try the latest F&B experience.

Other highly-promising facts and figures in that report show that tourism, is one of the fastest growing sectors in Lebanon, with an average of 9% annual growth over the last 3 years. The sector is expected to grow 5.8% per annum between 2017 and 2027 to reach 16.5 USD Billion by end of 2027.

Lastly, and based on an interview by Hospitality Services with Tony Rami, president of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-clubs & Pastries in Lebanon, over 1,500 F&B establishments opened in the country during the past five years, thereby exhibiting a 20 percent growth.

With global accolades bestowed that are far too many to list, Lebanon’s tourism and hospitality industries continue to exhibit, not only resilience, but also exceptional ingenuity further driving this sector beyond all expectations prompting lucrative investment opportunities that are too good to miss out on.