Syria’s tourism situation in 2020

Over the past years, Syria’s tourism sector has suffered severe blows as a result of the terrorist war and the coercive measures imposed on the country.

Great efforts have been exerted over the past period by the Syrian government and the civil society to recover tourism and restore its role as one of the pillars of national economy.

 Within this framework, the Ministry of Tourism intensified its efforts during 2020 to rehabilitate a number of damaged tourism facilities, to license new ones, to support development projects, to enhance internal and popular tourism and to strengthen investment and tourism cooperation with friendly countries through signing several agreements and memorandums of understanding.

 During recent months, the ministry assisted the health sector in confronting the coronavirus by putting a number of hotels at the disposal of the Ministry of Health to be used as quarantine centers.

According to the ministry’s data for this year, 87 tourist facilities at an estimated investment cost of 89 billion Syrian Pounds have been put into service. Several tourism projects according to the BOT system were licensed including the open beach project in Wadi Qandil in Lattakia and Al-Marina project on Tartous Corniche. 

With regard to tourism investment, the Ministry approved investment contracts for 9 sites of the projects presented at the 2019 Tourism Investment Market Forum, with an investment cost of 1,000 billion Syrian Pounds. These projects are due to be carried out in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Tartous and Lattakia.

Moreover, the revenues of several hotels in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs increased to about 9 billion Syrian Pounds since the beginning of this year until late last October.

The ministry also completed necessary renovation works for international hotels owned by the ministry, which had a positive impact on hotel occupancy, noting that the number of Arab and foreign visitors to Syria until last October reached 450,000.

In the area of enhancing cooperation with tourism-related international parties with the aim of activating foreign tourism, the Ministry signed 7 memos and agreements with concerned international and local bodies. It also participated in the 46th meeting of the Middle East Region Committee held by the World Tourism Organization via video and boosted coordination with the tourism authorities in Russia, Iran, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cuba, Tatarstan, Crimea, Jordan and Iraq to strengthen investment and tourism cooperation relations.

As far as tourism promotion is concerned, the Ministry participated in the “FITUR” International Exhibition for Tourism and Travel 2020 in Spain. It also made 40 promotional programs for Syrian sites of tourist attractions in Arabic and English. The ministry promoted tourism and hotel education and training and held the Duroub Tishreen Cycling Race in Lattakia villages.

The ministry also launched reforestation campaigns in Jabal Al Hurra in Lattakia within the framework of the plan to replant fire-affected.

It provided support for many civil society and youth activities and initiatives to disseminate awareness about the importance of enhancing the Syrian cultural identity.

In the field of tourism planning, the ministry rehabilitated the tourist routes of the Damascus and the Salah al-Din citadels. It also received planning studies for the Wadi Qandil tourist site in Lattakia and the Amrit archeological area.

Hamda Mustafa