120 summer festivals, tickets selling fast. $30 million budget set for international festivals </p > - Lebanon

120 summer festivals,
tickets selling fast
$30 million budget set

for international festivals

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Festival fever is on the increase as the country sees more than 120 festivals organized this summer, a 25 percent increase from last year, according to Nada Sardouk, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism.

Promoters are looking for their slice of what is estimated to be a multi-million dollar industry.

The country has nine international festivals, which attract a high number of visitors and offer upper scale programs with varied international artists. Both Saida International Festival and Sour International Festival, which stopped organizing celebrations for three years, are back. Tripoli International Festival is set to see the light of day this year.

Several emerging festivals such as Jounieh International Festival, Batroun International Festival, Ehdeniyat, Yawmiyyat Ghalboun Festival, and Ehmej Festival are attracting a growing number of audiences.

Sardouk said that the festivals launched in areas far from the capital such as Kobayat Festival, the Cedars International Festival, the Tannourine Festival, Amioun Festival, Bnashii Lake Festival, and Dbayeh Festival are enhancing their programs. This will help to boost economic activity of those regions.

International festivals invest between two and three million dollars yearly. Hala Chahine, Director of Beiteddine International Festival, said: “Investments depends on the artists we bring. It touched three million dollars this year.”

Latifa Lakis, Chairman of Byblos Festival, said the investment this year reached $2.5 million.

According to Sardouk, investment in small festivals that include two shows only reaches $700,000.

The Ministry supports around 80 percent of the festivals. According to Chahine, a quarter of a festival’s expenditure is provided by the Ministry, with the remaining three quarters covered from ticket sales and advertisers.

The cost of international singers starts from $30,000, reaching up to $200,000, according to Chahine. The cost of local artists can reach up to $150,000.

International festivals pay a hefty tax to the Government, making up around 25 percent of the ticket value. The prices of tickets start from $10 and can reach $250.

Booking for the upcoming season are till now considered acceptable. Lakis said that bookings at Byblos Festival have reached 50 percent, with most of the tickets sold to locals, mainly the youth. Around ten percent are sold to Arabs, and five percent to foreigners. She said that the demand focuses on local and youth programs.

Booking at Beiteddine Festival stands to date at 40 percent. Chahine said: “We are relying on locals, with less than 20 percent of booked tickets going to tourists.”
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Jun 27, 2016