Lebanon’s Tourism Minister Walid Nassar issued on Thursday a decree that allows tourist institutions to exceptionally and selectively list their prices in US dollars or Lebanese pounds. The final bill will also be issued in either currency.
The move is temporary and will end in September, the end of the tourism season in Lebanon, which is suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis.
Nassar told Asharq Al-Awsat that his ministry has kicked off measures to promote tourism, whether by welcoming tourists at the airport or organizing taxi services from the facility.
He revealed that it has also called for the removal of posters of Hezbollah leaders and slain members that have been posted along the airport highway.
The posters will be replaced with images of various Lebanese regions, he added.
His efforts have been positively received, he revealed.
“We are also planning to hold festivals in Downtown Beirut, specifically in Nejmeh square after the barricades have been removed around the area,” he added.
Nejmeh square is also home to the parliament building. Last week, security forces removed concrete barriers that had been placed around 2019 to deter anti-government protesters from storming parliament. With the election of a new legislature, which includes opposition figures, the barriers were removed.
Before the crisis in Lebanon, Nejmeh square was a popular area for festivals and boasted several restaurants and cafes.
On the decision to list prices in dollars and Lebanese pound, Nassar said it stemmed from the government’s inability to come up with a stable exchange rate.
The move will create competition between institutions and will attract hard cash that is needed to pay salaries and other needs, he added.
Nassar predicted Lebanon will have a promising summer and that some 10,000 to 12,000 people will arrive in the country daily in June. Seventy percent of arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and the rest are foreigners.
A tourist normally spends around 1,500 dollars on their trip, meaning the season will likely generate around 3 billion dollars, he added, hoping that the situation in Lebanon remains calm on the security and political levels.
The move to list prices in dollars was welcomed by the tourism sector.
Secretary General of the Federation of Tourism Establishments Jean Beiruti told Asharq Al-Awsat that the move is “bold and the result of two years of hard work.”