Lebanon, one step at a time


LEBANON has proposed tax relief and other measures for its tourism industry to recover from a month of war, AFP reports.

“We have issued a programme for recovery and rehabilitation of tourism in Lebanon based, hopefully, on security stability,” tourism minister Joe Sarkis said. Before the war, Lebanon expected $4.4 billion in revenue and investment in tourism and tourism infrastructure in 2006.
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government estimates damage to bridges, roads, and other infra-structure at $3.6 billion. Damage to economic activity is seen at billions more, including $3 billion lost from tourism receipts this summer.
Under the recovery plan, tourism operators are being asked to fill in forms giving a detailed assessment of losses, while tax breaks and discussions with financial institutions are also being talked over, “in order for the institutions to remain working during this difficult period,” he said.
If Lebanon can maintain stability, investment could more than double in 2006, from $1.6 billion a year earlier, and rise further next year, says Nabil Itani, of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL). Those who invested before the war or were preparing to do so, he told Reuters, “are waiting for security stability, but their intention is to proceed... [in] that situation, for 2007 we expect more than $4 billion.”
The main investors in Lebanon in recent years have been companies from other Arab states, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
IDAL’s numbers are for investment projects, not reconstruction or housing, said Itani.