Steep road ahead for Lebanon
The world’s fastest-growing tourism destination has numerous problems to overcome, from political instability to the price of making a phone call.
March 21, 2010 12:37 by Rasha Reslan
Dr. Osama Safa, head of the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies, tells Kipp that the Lebanese government can keep the situation stable through adopting a united plan for shoring up the tourism sector in the event of a crisis, noting that it is not new for Lebanon to face political and security instability and pull of out of it.
The second barrier to growth is the fact that Lebanon does not have a clear plan for boosting its tourism sector, something that is seen as a prerequisite for its success.
Though the Lebanese government is aware of the importance of such planning, and it has recently approved new policies toward developing infrastructure and financial services, there is a steep road ahead in terms of specific strategies aimed at boosting the tourism sector.
The third potential barrier – telecommunications – is perhaps a surprising one. But experts say that high mobile phone charges and poor internet connections do indeed pose a deterrent to tourists.
In February 2009, the cabinet decreased mobile phone tariffs. But a recent World Bank report found that there has been no improvement in the quality of service, due in part to the lack of competition.
“What should be done is to privatize the sector and allow many operators to join the market, by doing so; the government will provide a better service for a better price,” Dr. Ali Beydoun, a Beirut-based lecturer in “Ethonomics” (which is defined as ‘ethical economics’), tells Kipp.
Dr. Beydoun pointed out that the government should provide tourists with the option to buy cheaper international calling cards.