Syria nets $7.6 bn from 40% tourism spike in 2010

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Syria’s tourism industry boomed in 2010, marking a 40 percent increase from the previous year and generating over $7.6 billion in revenues, the tourism minister said Tuesday.

palmyra“2010 was an exceptional year (for tourism),” Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al-Qalaa told AFP, adding the number of tourists rose to 8.5 million in 2010 from 6.2 million in 2009. The 40 percent jump generated over $7.6 billion in revenues.

About 4.6 million Arabs, 2.3 million foreigners and 1.5 million Syrians living abroad flocked to the country in 2010, according to the ministry’s figures.

Qalaa attributed the industry’s spike to the success of Syria’s foreign policy, the decision to cancel visa requirements for travellers from Turkey and Iran, and his own ministry’s efforts.

Tourism from Iran rose 84 percent in 2010 from the previous year while 865,000 tourists arrived from Turkey, up from 381,000 in 2009, when visas where still required.

The influx of tourists from neighboring countries more than doubled in 2010, with Jordanian tourism up 57 percent and Lebanese tourism climbing 59 percent compared to 2009.

The Syrian government aims to make tourism a driving sector of the economy in a bid to offset the country’s plummeting petrol revenues.

Syria’s attractions include historic Damascus and northern Aleppo, Ugarit, an archaeological site where the first alphabet was discovered, the Roman ruins of Palmyra and “Krak de Chevaliers,” a fort built during the Crusades.


Source: AFP [January 25, 2011]


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