Al Habtoor Group chairman Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor Al Habtoor Group chairman Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor

Al Habtoor Group's five-star hotels and flagship theme park in Lebanon have been negatively impacted by the crisis in neighbouring Syria, according to media reports. 

Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor, the chairman of the group told The National that occupancy rates were not offsetting costs and he had no plans to re-open the company's amusement park, HabtoorLand, in Beirut.

"We are just making losses. The situation is very bad at the moment, there is no occupancy because of the political situation in Syria and the effects it has had on Lebanon," he said.

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"We are just leaving our investments but do not plan to put in any more money."

In Lebanon, it is the cheap local hotels, not Mr Al Habtoor's five-star variety, that are full, mainly with Syrian refugees seeking extended stays in the country, the newspaper reported.

Al Habtoor's Lebanon portfolio comprises the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand and the Metropolitan Palace Hotel. HabtoorLand has been shut since 2005.

In the past few months, Lebanon has suffered sporadic outbreaks of violence as a result of political spillover from Syria.

GCC countries including Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have issued travel warnings for the country.

"Lebanon hotels are facing a challenging season," Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, the head of hotel advisory for the Middle East and Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle told The National. 

"The Lebanese and the GCC guests have largely stayed away this summer because of the perceived instability in Lebanon and in the region as well as because of Ramadan. The armed violence in neighbouring Syria did not help."

Lebanon strongly depends on tourism to offset its current account deficit, which stands at about US$5.6 billion (Dh20.57bn), as estimated by the IMF. The country has about $64bn worth of debt.

Al Habtoor has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad's regime, according to the newspaper report.

"The GCC are helping but what I am looking for is more transparency and to announce it," he said.

"The Gulf should back the Syrians to get rid of the criminal Bashar Al Assad."