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A new vision of tourism in Syria

Tourism is regarded as a strategic industry by the Government of Syria, and one of the major sectors of the national economy…

Tourism is regarded as a strategic industry by the Government of Syria, and one of the major sectors of the national economy. It is considered as an industry with considerable economic potential, and will play an important role in increasing future economic opportunities.

Tourism is supported by the Government of Syria as it considers this sector as a vehicle for increasing understanding and dialogue between people, highlighting a more positive image of Syria, and allowing the people who live around the main tourist sites to benefit from their own heritage. Tourism is, of course, a major contributor to the preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of Syria.

Syria has a wealth of archaeological and historical sites which narrate the heritage of over twenty identifiable epochs of human civilization. Amongst the major sites are Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world; Ommayad Mosque that contains the shrine of St John the Baptist; the churches of St Paul, St Hananiah, St Simeon the stylite and St Sergius; and the traditional villages of Apamea, Seidnaya and Maloula with their monasteries and sacred icons (where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ). Palmyra with their charming temples and ruines, Krac des chevaliers and the kingdoms treasures of Ugarit, Mari, Doura Europos and many other cultural sites.

But Syria is not all in the past. Syria offers many opportunities for activity holidays. These include walking trails through the mountains and historical sites, horse and camel riding treks, desert camps, as well as some fantastic shopping opportunities. All these are in addition to exploring our ancient cities with their souks, khans, traditional architecture, and markets full of local handicrafts and products. Syria provides the opportunity of combining so many things in a single holiday, mixing history with the chance to discover the living culture of the Syrian people.

The tourism sector in Syria is now well developed and provides high quality services with excellent transport links and a wide range of hotels and other accommodation, all enhanced by the traditional hospitality of our people.

Tourism to Syria increased by 17% between 2001 and 2002, from 2.391 million visitors to 2.808 million (with expatriates). Total tourism expenditure in 2002 was estimated at 1.4 billion US dollars, and is worth 7% of the total GDP.

The Government of Syria has supported the expansion of tourism by:

  • Updating legislation and regulations so as to encourage investment in tourism

  • Providing new tax incentives covering the main construction and development periods

  • Allowing Arab and Foreign investors to own land Arab tourists no longer require visas to visit Syria, and foreign tourists using any tour operator in their country can arrange to have a visa issued at the airport and the borders. Swedish tourists wanting to get a visa before arrival can obtain one through the Syrian embassy in Stockholm. Syria is a secure destination, and the security of the tourist is a priority for the Government.

Syria is a destination that provides a wide range of events to attract the tourist. The Silk Road Festival, held at the end of September every year, is a special attraction for Swedish tourists, and will be one of the highlights of 2004.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.