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Revival of tourism comes as a respite for war-torn Syria

While the number of visitors is nowhere near the pre-war era, this uptick is definitely a boost for the fledgling Syrian economy.

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The struggling Syrian economy has found a new ray of hope in the form of tourism. The war-torn country welcomes expats and tourists from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, etc., who go on pilgrimage to sites revered by Shiite Muslims.

The country has already welcomed over 750,000 tourists in the first half of 2022, which is way higher than the total count of 570,000 who visited Syria during the same period last year. However, this count was way less than that of over 10 million visitors, including people from western countries, before the conflict broke out.

In an interview with Reuters, Syrian Tourism Minister Mohammed Rami Martini sounded confident about reaching the numbers from the pre-covid era this year and felt that the eased travel restrictions in the region are the primary reason behind this uptick.

These visitors are primarily expats who have relocated to other countries or tourists from countries with friendly relations with the current Bashar Assad regime. “We have close to 100,000 Iraqis, and there are Lebanese and others from friendly states. But the biggest number are the expatriates,” said Rami Martini.

As a result of the ongoing power struggle, the Syrian economy has collapsed, resulting in a short supply of fuel, and an intermittent supply of electricity, especially in the summer season. The government has also reduced the subsidies on various products, resulting in a further increase in prices.

The decline in the Syrian currency is not helping the cause either. While the expats have a similar spending capacity as the tourists, the short supply of fuel and other necessities is holding back the economy. 

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