A total of 32,000 Lebanese fans purchased tickets to attend the World Cup in Qatar.
Qatar and Lebanon are planning on launching a sports tourism initiative during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, caretaker Lebanese tourism minister Walid Nassar told Beirut’s news agency (NNA) on Sunday.
“The other tourism initiative is in sports. During our recent visit…we negotiated with the Prime Minister and those responsible for the World Championship that will be organised in Qatar in order to work on sports tourism, and not just the transmission of football matches,” said Nassar.
The Lebanese official’s comments came during the inauguration of the “Eternal Love Forest – Loop” where he discussed Lebanon’s tourism campaign for the summer of 2022.
During the event, he revealed that 32,000 Lebanese fans purchased tickets to attend the World Cup in Qatar, the first to ever take place in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, Nassar told the Qatar News Agency (QNA) that there are various ideas to enhance bilateral sports tourism especially during the World Cup.
The Lebanese tourism minister, during his visit to Qatar, said that his ministry is organising tourism packages between Doha and Beirut.
He added that there has been a decline in the number of Qatari tourists visiting Lebanon in light of regional conditions, particularly in Beirut.
Speaking to the press in Beirut, Nassar said that the ministry will continue to launch tourism initiatives even after the summer in an effort to “reflect Lebanon’s beautiful, cultural and civilised facets.”
The official noted that Lebanon will launch on 25 August the ‘recreational and cinematic tourism’ from Beirut, the capital of culture and civilizations.
Meanwhile, there have been no updates regarding talks between Qatar and Lebanon to secure free streaming services to Beirut for the World Cup.
Earlier this month, Lebanese Caretaker Minister of Information Ziad Makary has dismissed as “inaccurate” reports over an alleged agreement between Qatar and Lebanon on the matter.
However, the Lebanese official expressed his hope in benefitting from Qatar’s developed media sector.
“The two sides discussed the possibility of media cooperation between Beirut and Doha during the State of Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup, and touched every positive spirit through the warm reception of Qatari officials,” read a statement from Makary’s office.
The New Arab reported in June that Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati filed the request following a meeting with Mohammed Al-Khanji, Local and Regional Media Expert at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), as well as Doha’s Ambassador to Beirut Ibrahim Al-Sahlawi.
Lebanon did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup, however the request came a day after the trophy made its stop in Beirut as part of a global tour.
If no agreement is made following Lebanon’s request, cash-strapped Lebanese citizens would be left with no option but to watch at public cafes or bars, or via illegal means.
Lebanon’s economic crisis
Lebanon is currently living under its worst economic crisis that has worsened since 2019, with the currency losing 90% of its value to the US dollar.
Beirut’s worsening situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak and the tragic Beirut port blast in 2020.
Despite billions of aid sent to the country in response to the tragedy, it has yet to financially recover. Qatar was the first country to offer direct support for the Lebanese in the aftermath of the explosion, pledging more than $70 million in donations.
Meanwhile, three quarters of Lebanon’s population have been pushed into poverty and are living under inflation as a result of the economic situation.