Festivals season launched. Draft law to exempt organizers from taxes - Lebanon

Festivals season launched
Draft law to exempt organizers from taxes
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The 2013 International Beiteddine Festival and Baalbeck International Festival are on track. The Beiteddine program begins on June 21 with a special performance by the Beiteddine Festival committee, titled ‘Following the steps of Marco Polo - A musical journey on the silk road’. The festival will run until August 10 and feature several international performances, such as ‘Splendid’, the Chinese national circus, Kazem El Saher, and Patricia Kaas performing Edith Piaff. The Baalbeck International Festival will run from June 30 to August 30. It will kickstart with the performance of Renée Flerming, winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo artist. Performances by artists such as Assi Hellani and Marcel Khalife are also included.

The Byblos International Festival will kick off by end-May, with performances by renowned artists scheduled, including a much-anticipated Yanni concert. Jounieh’s Festival was announced last month.

Nada Sardouk, General Director of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), said the festivals feature some of the best programs that the committees have worked on. “We are expecting very positive results.”

Sardouk said these festivals are vital to the hosting cities: “Festivals revive small businesses in the cities where they are held, as they are a footfall attracting component.”

Sardouk said: “We are looking forward to a promising summer, especially since we are inciting tour operators to include the festivals within their travel packages.”

The MoT has been working to endorse a draft law for exempting festival organizers from taxes. Sardouk said festival committees pay 33 percent of their turnover in taxes to the Ministry of Finance (MoF): “This amount is almost equivalent to the subsidy the MoT pays to the festivals' committees as incentives, which is equivalent to 33 percent of each committee's annual budget.”

Though the bill was rejected, Sardouk said it is still crucial to encouraging the festivals. She said such international events that attract huge numbers of visitors must be given more incentives: “Our proposition aims at considering the organizers as non-profit organizations, and treating them the same way (in terms of tax exemptions).”
Reported by Rana Freifer
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Date Posted: May 09, 2013