BEIRUT — Lebanon's Tourism Ministry announced Saturday that it requested hospitality venues to declare the entrance fees they will charge customers who wish to watch World Cup matches.
The ministry asked for the fees to be declared "for monitoring and control purposes," caretaker Tourism Minister Walid Nassar told L'Orient Today.
The request comes one day before Sunday's World Cup kickoff, which will take place in Qatar until Dec. 18. Nassar clarified to L'Orient Today that entrance fees have always been imposed by bars, cafes and hotels — not by the ministry — during World Cup games over the years, "in order to cover the broadcasting subscription."
"The fee used to be calculated into the bill," Nassar said. "Since the institutions tend to price randomly as they wish ... we released a statement reminding them about the regulations and the law. They cannot charge customers however they want, so they need to release their price list and present it to the [Tourism] Ministry so that we can impose our control."
However, the Tourism Minister said he cannot reveal the price range or limits that such institutions will charge for the games until they declare their fees.
L'Orient Today contacted the heads of different touristic syndicates to ask how the institutions plan to implement entrance fees, but no one was immediately available for comment.
On Nov. 8, the Federation of Young Lebanese Businessmen and Women (FYBL) announced in a statement that it contacted the caretaker ministers Ziad Makari and Walid Nassar, calling on them to "intervene in order to secure the broadcasting of matches in touristic establishments" in return for a fee "that takes into account the economic conditions" of the country.
Transparency of fees
In a statement released Saturday, the Tourism Ministry said the entrance fees will be "determined according to what the institution provides, during the match broadcasting period, after submitting to the Tourism Ministry a copy of the price list in Arabic and English to obtain approval," adding that it also "requests all institutions to clearly announce the above-mentioned price lists at their entrances, in order to preserve transparency between tourism institutions and their customers."
According to Nassar, the ministry is striving to implement a "fixed" rate policy for each restaurant or cafe, where the bar or cafe charges the same fee on all days regardless of which match is being televised, but the fee will likely differ between different establishments.
Sama Group — the broadcaster of the beIN Sports channel — has so far been reluctant to release its broadcasting price list set for commercial institutions.
"Prices are given on a case-by-case basis and vary according to a range from $3,000 to $50,000," the customer service department told L'Orient-Le Jour.
"The customer must present the capacity of his establishment and, after verification on-site by the group, is offered a price that also depends on its location," a Beirut-based reseller, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained. "For example, a restaurant located in Mansourieh, in the suburbs of Beirut, will pay less than another located in Raoucheh, on the coast of the capital."
"The broadcasting license varies between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the commercial space," said Tony Rami, president of the syndicate of owners of restaurants, nightclubs, cafes and pastry shops in Lebanon.