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Syria Publicizing Aleppo, Palmyra at Fitur Fair

Syria Publicizing Aleppo, Palmyra at Fitur FairSyria Publicizing Aleppo, Palmyra at Fitur Fair

The Syrian government is making efforts to promote the country as a tourist destination following a civil war that has devastated much of its area.

This week the Syrian government is publicizing Aleppo, along with other destinations in Syria, at the Fitur International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid, AFP reported.

It is the first time Syria has attended the trade fair since 2011, before the war broke out.

Along with the ruins of Aleppo, it also encourages people to visit the ancient Roman-era ruins of Palmyra, the UNESCO-listed archeological site that was twice controlled by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

IS fighters blew up some of the temples and burial towers before being forced out of the city for the final time last year by Syrian government forces and their Russian backers.

"This year is the time to rebuild Syria and our economy," Bassam Barsik, director of marketing at the Syrian Ministry of Tourism, said.

Barsik said 1.3 million foreign visitors traveled to Syria last year, although that figure includes those who came from neighboring Lebanon for only one day.

"We're targeting two million visitors this year," he said.

He argued that religious destinations, such as the historical Christian town of Maaloula, one of the last places on earth where Aramaic is still spoken, are still a draw to tourists.

Damascus, Tartus, Latakia and the historical Crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers close to the border with Lebanon, although damaged by bombing, are other possible attractions.

"In 2017, the army controlled much of the country and that was a big help to promote Syria abroad and attract tourist groups again," said Barsik.

Although most of the terrorists were killed or forced to retreat, many countries advise citizens against traveling to Syria.

The war has displaced millions of people and is estimated to have claimed the lives of at least 340,000 people since 2011.

 

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