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Feature: Lebanon's resorts see slow return to business in summer amid strict anti-coronavirus measures
From:Xinhua  |  2020-06-22 18:37

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by Dana Halawi

BEIRUT, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Every year, people in Lebanon wait for summer to enjoy the sun and relax after a long and cold winter, by visiting the beautiful resorts along the Mediterranean coast.

But, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, this summer is much different for the Lebanese visiting the resorts, as swimming areas are open at only 50 percent of capacity as part of the precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, all activities that allow people to form a crowd were cancelled so far.

"We are only receiving a small number of people this year while respecting social distancing measures," a front desk manager at the Coral Beach hotel told Xinhua.

The manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the resort's staff take the temperature of the visitors, disinfect their shoes before visiting the pool area, and ask people to use their own towels.

Mohammad Bazzi, manager of the Bar Damour Beach, told Xinhua that his customers noticed the safety measures adopted by the resort's administration.

"We are respecting social distancing measures and people who come together in groups sit two-meter away from each other," he said.

Lebanon has been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak since Feb. 21. The total number of the coronavirus infections in the country has reached 1,587, including 32 deaths.

Many Lebanese believed that life must go on and they are keen to enjoy the summer following three months in quarantine, while also expressing worry about the infectious coronavirus.

"Life has to move on, we cannot stay in quarantine forever. We can still enjoy our time as long as we take proper precautionary measures," Elie Bitar, a visitor at the Bar Damour Beach, told Xinhua.

Nala Husseini, who was sunbathing at the Coral Beach, told Xinhua this is the least she can do to enjoy the good weather since she did not plan any yearly trips given the outbreak of COVID-19 all over the world.

"We are not traveling this year so I decided to spend my time on the beach as much as possible to enjoy my summer time," she said.

Beach resorts, in the past, relied to a great extent on their summer revenues which constitute a big chunk of their yearly profit. However, they are not expected to earn the same profit this year as previous years.

Bazzi said that the current economic and financial crisis prompted the resort's owners to maintain their prices or even reduce them in some cases.

"We have slightly reduced our entrance fees but we slightly increased the prices of our food items to be able to cover our costs," he said.

"We want to continue our operations even if we only manage to cover our costs, knowing that a lot of families make a living out of our resort," he added.

Pilar Eid, director of sales and marketing at Riviera Hotel, said that the safety measures taken by the hotel cost a lot, while it has not been able to increase its prices given the economic crisis in Lebanon.

"We also have promotions to attract people to our resort since some people fear going to the beaches due to COVID-19," she said, adding that the number of visitors this year are much fewer than previous years.