Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lebanese beach resorts mourn promising summer ruined by conflict

Lebanese beach resorts mourn promising summer ruined by conflict
By Pierre Sawaya, Agence France Presse (AFP)

BEIRUT: Lebanese beach resorts that had invested huge sums for a promising summer season are now counting their losses with millions of dollars in damage inflicted by Israeli strikes and ensuing oil slicks. "Our direct losses and the loss of earnings amount to $10 million," said Roger Edde, owner of the Edde Sands resort north of Beirut. Israel launched a 34-day offensive against Lebanon on July 12 after the Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers. The hostilities forced tourists to flee Lebanon, which had been preparing for a record summer season. The Israeli strikes also caused an environmental catastrophe on Lebanon's coast by destroying fuel tanks at the Jiyyeh power station south of Beirut, unleashing an estimated 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea. "We closed for three weeks to clean the beach from the oil slicks which also evaporate, causing breathing problems, and activities have been slow since the September 2 reopening," Edde said. "From 3,000 lunches and dinners a day before the war, we are now serving an average of 30 meals a day." Hussein Sharafeddin, owner of the Pangea beach resort south of Beirut, expressed the same grievances and has been forced to carry out massive lay-offs. "Our losses amount to $2 million. We had invested a lot in order to offer Lebanese and tourists one of the world's most beautiful resorts," he said. "We keep cleaning the sand and the sea, but the oil slicks keep coming back," he added. But Sharafeddin refuses to give up: "We intend to continue to invest and we are considering building a hotel despite the [Israeli] threats." Edde is also optimistic. He decided to reopen after the end of the war in order to "keep the morale high" and to continue work on a new 2,500-seat conference center. But he has decided to freeze future investments until the situation is more stable. "We want to see where the country is heading," he said. Millions of dollars have been invested at dozens of beach resorts which have mushroomed along Lebanon's 220-kilometer coastline in recent years. The Bamboo Bay resort south of Beirut has reported direct losses of $560,000 and loss of earnings of $350,000. It opened for 10 days last month but was forced to close for lack of clients. "We need at least two or three years to regain the tourism boom of the past few years," said Sharafeddin.

1 comment:

joshuasmith578 said...

Millions of dollars have been invested at dozens of beach resorts. Akin to cebu beach resorts with nice beaches.

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