Formerly a cradle of civilization, a jewel in the crown of the French Empire and indeed a tourist Mecca, recent times have been much harder for Syria. Things though are not only starting to get better overall, but tourists are finally starting to return to the country.
We went to talk to Minister of Tourism Muhammad Rami Radwan Martini, and Iyad Abo Al Shamat General Manager of Syria Link Travel and Tours about the future of tourism in the country.
To read about the sanctions on Russian travelers click here.
Syria used to be huge for tourism, how is the government fixing things now to try and attract more tourists to the country?
Yes, Syria was one of the most important travel destinations in Middle East region, we have returned to the tourist market in the second half of 2018, and after the COVED-19 pandemic we restart again, in fact the real began was on the years of 2021 and 2022.
What is the 5 year plan for increasing tourist numbers to Syria?
We have many plans to attend international tourism exhibitions. Many hotels have been renewing and we open new hotels of five, four and three stars in different places in Syria. We are also working on restoring a good number of archaeological sites.
Many places in Syria are well known for tourism, can you suggest any lesser-known or off the beaten track places that you would like to promote, or recommend to us?
For the time being, we focus on the famous sites and reopen new places for visitors that were outside of government control. Now is not the right time to shed light on lesser-known or off the beaten track places -which are so many by the way- due to shortage visitors at the most important sites of tourists.
There is much infrastructure and tourist sites in Syria that require work. Is the government seeking outside foreign direct investment in the tourism sector?
Yes, Syrian government is actively seeking any foreign investment to develop the infrastructure of archaeological sites, but the problem lies in the sanctions imposed on Syria. Unfortunately, most of foreign governments do not dare to help or invest in our country at the present time.
What can the government learn from former conflict zones that have embraced tourism such as Cambodia?
Due to the sanctions on Syrian government from abroad, the situation in Cambodia is not comparable to Syria. Now we are developing with the Syrian capabilities available and working hard despite all the difficulties to achieve the goal of reaching the pre-war stage.
Many people would like to do things like study Arabic in Syria. Is there any plan to ease visa requirements, or create a new category for people who would like to spend 2, or 3 months in the country?
Syrian visa valid for staying more than one month is the responsibility of Ministry of Interior, students and business travelers must contact the Syrian embassy in their country. We as Ministry of Tourism, take care of facilitate the Syrian visa for tourists exclusively.
You can check out tours to Syria her