Syria once made $8 billion annually from tourism, but the outbreak of the civil war in 2011 made foreign tourism nearly non-existent. Now, the Syrian regime has launched a new campaign to bring tourism back to the country.
Under the slogan “Always Beautiful”, the Syrian Ministry of Tourism operates various social media channels that offer a tantalizing glimpse of Syria that excludes much of the fighting, bombing, and violence the country has experienced over the past half-decade.
On the ministry’s official YouTube page, footage captured by drones gives the regime-stronghold of Tartus the appearance of a summer retreat untouched by the conflict raging just miles away.
In another video posted by the ministry, a wide variety of tourist sites are featured. From Damascus to Palymra, the video gives an impression of relative calm in multiple locales.
Despite the call for more foreign tourism, getting a tourist visa from Syrian government is complicated. Though direct flights still exist from Russia and Iran, gaining access to regime-controlled Syria is a difficult and unclear endeavour for many nationalities.