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Syria emerges as favorite tourist destination in middle-east

15 July 2007

Syria is emerging as a favourite tourist destination in the region. Over the past 10 years, Syria has witnessed fast growth in the number of visitors. The country attracts more tourists than several other established destinations in the region. Currently, 74% of all foreign visitors to Syria come from the Arab world – with Iran, Turkey and Europe being the biggest contributors.

The number of visitors to Syria is expected to reach 3.65 million in 2007.

Syria’s tourism sector is seeing a growing number of visitors from the Arab world (50%), from Syrian expatriates (36%), and other foreigners (14%). The country currently has a higher average annual growth of visitor numbers than tourism-oriented countries in the region like Egypt, Turkey, or Jordan.

Syria has seen a 15.2% average annual growth in tourist numbers between 1995 and 2005, compared to Egypt, which had a growth of 11.1%, Jordan 10.8%, and Turkey 11.1% in the same period.

Syria is also above the world average in tourist arrivals, and well ahead of Iran and Egypt.

However, in comparison to Turkey, its northern neighbour, Syria still lags behind. Turkey has 291 visitors per 1,000 people and $261 tourism income per capita.

However, Jordan, a smaller country, has succeeded in achieving higher visitor numbers (519 visitors per 1,000 people) and receipts per head ($250).

Hotels in Syria, which have high occupancy rates, are struggling to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. There is a shortage especially of five-star and four-star hotels.

According to Syria’s Ministry of Tourism, the value of tourism investments being implemented in the country and those which are expected to be executed within the coming years have reached $2.4 billion in 24 projects. The new investments in tourism are expected to provide 45,000 job opportunities till 2011.

While Syria’s links with its traditional Arab market are strong, an increasing number of visitors from Iran and Europe are opting to visit the country.





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