Syria's Tourism Sector Is on the Mend

Syria's rich history and culture, its natural diversity as well as its historical, touristic and archaeological attractions have made the country an important tourist destination.

The tourism sector in Syria, which has been targeted by systematic terrorist attacks during the ongoing terrorist war on Syria, is now on the mend as many damaged tourism facilities have lately kicked into gear and started to work again.

Within this framework, the National Association for Tourism Development in Syria, which was established in 2013 with the approval of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, exerts major efforts to revitalize the country's tourism and encourage national investment in this sector as Syria has many charming natural landscapes and a unique historical heritage.

"Syria is a world famous tourism country and it has remarkable diverse natural landscapes, a unique historical heritage as well as basic tourism elements including geography, weather, antiquities, sea, woods, nature reserves," Mrs. Sahar Hmaisheh, head of the association in Lattakia, told Syriatimes e-newspaper.

"Both terrorism and the misleading media coverage of events in Syria have affected the country's tourism sector. We are aspiring to overcome the crisis repercussions through the preventive role of development establishments, youth organizations as well as voluntary works," she added.

Syrians' ability to overcome the crisis

Talking about the association's goals, Mrs. Hmaisheh said "its main objective is to show the world the ability of the Syrian people to overcome the crisis,"stressing that "arts, oriental icons and the steadfast Jasmine flowers are also means for the Syrians to challenge their enemies who want to undermine our history, present and future".

She indicated  that the association's plans are keen on revitalizing the tourism sector and helping it rise again to prove its presence on the ground and be the forefront of other sectors.

Mrs. Hmaisheh went on to say that the association aims at disseminating tourism and cultural awareness, supporting activities in this field, encouraging traditional handcrafts and marketing them to revive the industries of ancient heritage.

She pointed out that the association spares no effort to carry out training and qualifying courses on tourism management,  to provide job opportunities and to support small tourist projects.

Mrs. Hmaisheh highlighted the fact that the association endeavors to increase women's participation in the tourism development process through training them on producing  different kinds of home-made foods like desserts, jams and olive oil, on recycling old materials and on presenting a number of handcrafts of which Syria is famous.

According to Mrs. Hmaisheh, the association constantly carries out picnics and long-walk activities through nature, mountains and woods in the countryside of Lattakia and other provinces to see the beauty and history of Syria and to experience the reality of life in the country.

She confirmed the importance of the tourism plans that aim at carrying out long-term development investment projects to support the national revenue.

She emphasized relying on local financial, material, geographical and natural resources to invest the entire national workforce appropriately as to accomplish real integration and create an active economic power for our country.

She pointed out that several tourism investment projects have been jump-started and tourism facilities have become operative again, which, she said, offered ground for optimism and enabled Syria to throb with life again.

Activities for children

In addition,Mrs. Hmaisheh said, "various cultural and artistic activities, heritage art exhibitions, workshops in addition to other related activities were held to support the tourism promotion plans. They added value to the tourist scene in Syria and asserted that the Syrians continue to find new outlet for their creativity."

"Since children are the major victim of the crisis in Syria, several plastic art exhibitions as well as reading workshops and first-aid courses were held by the association for children to raise awareness, to provide psychological support to children, to encourage them to challenge the difficult circumstances and to alleviate the negative impacts of the crisis on them," Hmaisheh clarified.

In this connection, she pointed out that last August, the association held the second sand sculpture forum which was considered as an important step towards a new artistic tradition that would last for a long time.

She hailed the unremitting efforts exerted by the association's one hundred volunteers from different categories of society, to enhance the tourism movement in Syria, underlining that these young volunteers are very enthusiastic to offer something beautiful and useful to their country.

She concluded by stressing that the policies of Syria's enemies will backfire on them in the near future and the Syrians will rebuild their country and shake off the dust of war.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam