For some time, many advertisements welcoming tourists and expatriates have appeared prominently at the entrances to the Lebanese capital, specifically near Rafic Hariri International Airport. Lebanon, according to the expectations of Minister of Tourism Walid Nassar, is on the verge of a promising summer, to receive no less than two million visitors. This means expecting financial revenues that may exceed the $9 billion that was revealed last year. However, these expectations may face many challenges, and may reduce the expected revenues.
The high prices of furnished apartments for monthly or daily rent constitute an obstacle for many expatriates wishing to visit Lebanon in the summer. Prices are not only in dollars, but are greatly exaggerated. According to Al-Modon’s tour of the capital, Beirut, the daily rent for an apartment consisting of a bedroom and a hall starts at $180, and the price increases according to the privileges offered by the apartment.
In the southern regions, specifically those near the Nabatiyeh and Sidon regions, prices start at $120, and if the demand for an apartment is for a month, the price drops to $100, which means $3,000. As for the Jezzine region and neighboring areas, the price per night rises to $170, and the prices are almost the same in the mountainous areas, with prices ranging between approximately $120 and $200.
Maria Abdel Khalaf will not visit Lebanon this year, due to the high prices of furnished apartments in summer resorts. She tells Al-Modon: Apartment prices are unbelievably high. The cost of one night in a house consisting of two rooms and a hall in the mountain areas reaches more than $120, which means that the cost reaches more than $3,600, especially when we add electricity and internet bills. Which is a very exaggerated number.”
The demand for furnished apartments in Lebanon increases during the summer, due to two factors: the turnout of expatriates, especially new expatriates who do not own real estate of their own in Lebanon, and are forced to spend the summer period in furnished houses, and the second factor, due to the increase in the demand of Iraqi and Egyptian tourists for furnished apartments, Because of the privacy it provides.
Raif Al-Sayed, a broker in Beirut, admits that the prices of furnished apartments have risen remarkably, and he attributes this to the high costs paid by the property owner, due to the absence of electricity, and his having to share with the owners of generators, or even installing solar energy.
More expensive than Europe
Comparing the prices of hotels or chalets between Lebanon and neighboring countries has become very well known, and tends to favor neighboring countries. For example, the price of a room in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, or even in Antalya, Turkey, does not exceed $30 per night, including breakfast. But the shocking irony is that renting furnished apartments in many European cities that attract tourists is cheaper than in Lebanon.
According to the Numbeo website, apartment rents in Milan are 11 percent lower than in Beirut, and prices are 8.6 percent lower in Naples. In Lisbon, the price drops by 6.9 percent. The price is also lower by 24.9 percent in the Black Sea city of Batumi in Georgia than the prices in force in Beirut. The list goes on, when comparing prices between the city of Baku in Azerbaijan, or the city of Yerevan in Armenia.
This sample of the prices of furnished apartments in tourist countries indicates that those in charge of the tourism sector in Lebanon are ignorant or ignore the reality of the sector and the principles of competition and polarization.
Many families prefer to spend a simple vacation in Lebanon in the family’s homes, provided that the stay does not exceed about a week, and to travel to any other country that offers more offers during the summer. As is the case with Najwa Shaheen’s family, who decided to spend a week in Lebanon and travel for two weeks in Turkey. She tells Al-Modon: The cost of staying in Lebanon for a month with travel tickets for her family is more than $9,000, while this amount could suffice to spend a simple vacation with the family, and move to Turkey, where tourism companies compete to provide the best offers.
In conclusion, the number of visitors through Rafic Hariri International Airport is not the only real indicator to read the reality of tourism in Lebanon, especially if the Lebanese vacations are relatively short, which means that tourism revenues will inevitably be affected.