Business is booming.

As Lebanon battles crisis, It’s coastal city of Batroun thrives on local tourism

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BATROUN- While businesses across Lebanon are fighting to survive a monumental economic meltdown, the coastal city of Batroun is thriving as a tourist destination for the Lebanese whose summer plans have been disrupted by the ongoing crisis and the global coronavirus pandemic.
Crowds stroll along Batroun’s streets and visit it’s historical sites while others sunbathe on it’s beaches. Many drink their nights away despite the pandemic and their country’s financial crisis, which was dubbed as “one of the deepest depressions of modern history” by the World Bank.
“Lebanese can’t go for tourism abroad anymore” 54-year old restaurant owner Maguy al-Mouhawas said.
“They find that this city embraces them and their children, it treats them like its own, and this is why there’s a bigger turnout.” She further added.
Mouhawas notes that more properties are being rented out or purchased and more businesses are investing in Batroun, which is in stark contrast to the large exodus from the country’s capital city.
Lebanon’s financial crisis has wiped out jobs, propelled more than half of the population into poverty and slashed 90% of the value of the country’s local currency.
It’s capital city of Beirut is also still recovering from the aftermath of last year’s huge port blast that killed hundreds, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city. Whereas back in Batroun, John Bechara, who works for the municipality as a tourist guide, takes visitors on tours of the city’s ancient churches, Phoenician sea wall and major monuments.
“My love for Batroun made me look at every stone, every corner and every person I meet in the streets to ask about the history, and this is how I am getting attached to my city more and more.” the 54-year-old Bechara said.
On a random weekend or even on summer weekdays, the city’s streets, beaches, restaurants, cafes and pubs are full of life.
“This atmosphere was not created overnight. We knew our city is a touristic city par excellence, what you are seeing now is the result of 22 years of work,” said the head of Batroun municipality, Marcelino al-Hark.
Small businesses and famous brands are multiplying in Batroun, especially in the hospitality and food and beverage sectors.
Lebanon has recently eased its coronavirus restrictions and is recording low COVID-19 daily cases.
Many Batroun residents were pleased with the increase in populous, but some raised concerns about the growing crowds.
“We love people and we love gatherings, Batroun’s people have always been hospitable and generous, but it is the traffic… there have been many problems because of car parking.” said 67-year-old retired chef Elias Louka as he walked through his neighborhood on his way to go fishing.
However, Mouhawas, who described Batroun as the “oxygen” of her life, sees nothing but profit. Quoting an Arabic proverb, she said “Paradise without people is not worth going to.”
“Fortunately, in this economic situation, our city is thriving so we don’t feel the financial burden like others.” She also added.

Read More: As Lebanon battles crisis, It’s coastal city of Batroun thrives on local tourism

2021-06-21 12:30:00

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