Syria is planning to increase the number of incoming tourists by 25 percent annually, hoping to attract some four million tourists yearly by 2005, according to the Syrian Minister of Tourism Qasem Meqdad.
Meqdad added that Syria possesses all the archeological, cultural, and geographical resources necessary to achieve this goal. Consequently, the government, along with the private sector, has begun aggressively promoting the country’s natural and historical tourist attractions
In a move to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues, Syria has recently began implementing a 20-year plan to promote tourism. Under this scheme, the government is easing the issuance of visas and tour guide permits, as well as reducing restrictions over the many one-day tourists, who usually enter from Jordan or Lebanon to shop and returning the same day.
Syria has also begun sponsoring the establishment of various new hotels and tourist facilities while easing tax burdens on investors. The Syrian Ministry of Tourism has allocated $100 million recently to build 13 hotels in Northern Damascus and earmarked additional funds to construct roads connecting these facilities to popular historical sites.
So far, the campaign has been a success, with the number of Arab visitors increasing by approximately ten percent in the first half of 2000 to 883,000. Non-Arab tourists, on the other hand, also increased during the same period by nearly 45 percent, bringing the total number of non-Arab visitors to 89,000. Yearly tourism profits have exceeded one billion dollars in recent years. ― (MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )