Tourist arrivals in Syria up 13.6 percent in H1 2001
According to Syria’s ministry of tourism, nearly 1.5 million tourists visited Syria during the first six months of the year 2001, reported Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. This figure translates into a 13.6 percent rise compared with the corresponding period of the previous year, when 1.25 million tourists visited Syria according to official figures.
A reported 155,000 tourists arrived from the Arabian Gulf states between January and June 2001. Of these, 73 percent, or 113,000 visitors came from Saudi Arabia. This implies a 12 percent rise in incoming Saudi tourists, compared with the corresponding period in 2000.
In July, the Syrian ministry of tourism announced that during the first five months of 2001, one million tourists had visited Syria. The Ministry noted that these figures reflected an 8.2 percent increase compared with the first five months of 2000.
In a Reuters interview last June, Tourism Minister Qassim Muqdad said that 3.1 million tourists visited Syria throughout the year 2000, 2.2 million of which were Arab. This annual total is up from some 2.9 million tourist arrivals in 1999.
Reports by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) are, however, somewhat less optimistic compared to the official figures. The WTO estimated that throughout the year 2000 a more that 1.5 million tourists arrived in Syria. In 1999 the organization recorded a total of 1.386 million tourist entries and 1.276 million in 1998.
The gap between WTO statistics and the country's own, and considerably higher, figures, is explained by the fact that the official Syrian figures do not reflect tourist arrivals in a proper sense, but all non-national people arriving at Syria's frontiers, including businessmen, diplomats, foreign guest workers and so on. — (Mena Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)