You probably already know that the Lebanese government has (finally) approved the budget for 2010 and though there has been much talk on the increase in fees for low-digit car number plates (no idea what’s the craze with these), there has been very little talk of the increase in airport tax which is already high to begin with.

Here’s the airport tax breakdown in Lebanon according to IATA:

Lebanon Exit Tax: Levied on all passengers leaving Lebanon by air

LBP 100,000 (US$66.33) for first-class passengers; LBP 75,000 (US$49.75) for business class; LBP 50,000 (US$33.16) for economy class

Lebanon Departure Tax: Levied on all passengers leaving Lebanon by air or sea

LBP 5,000 (US$3.32)

So when traveling out Rafic Hariri Airport, you are charged both an exit tax and a departure tax.

Let’s compare to countries around us shall we:

Jordan: No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Syria Departure Fee: SYP 1,500 (US$32.07) is levied on all embarking passengers.

Turkey Departure Fee: US$50 is levied on Turkish nationals traveling abroad unless they are permanent residents overseas

As you can see, Jordanian’s completely disregard the tax, Syrian’s charge less than us, while the Turks specifically tax their nationals who reside in the country. We, on the other hand tax left, right and center. And now, the new 2010 budget calls for a 10% increase in the exit tax. Is that a bad thing? Well, its going to make your next plane ticket a little more expensive. But the question is, what is that extra money going to be used for?

Infrastructure development? Health care spending? Education? No, more “come to Lebanon” ads on foreign TV stations:

A 10 percent rise in the airport tax will generate the “first-ever” modern advertising promotion of Lebanon, according to Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud. […] Abboud explained advertisement and promotion would be concentrated in Russia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Spain.

And you consider that to be a wise way of spending the extra cash? Aren’t we already overflowing with tourists and that our infrastructure is on the brink of collapsing under the pressure? Or was that only an issue last year and it has magically disappeared?

Beirut Airport: Taxes collected here to pay for ads in Europe