Wish you were here in Syria (but only if you voted for anyone but National last year)


Well bugger me, what do they expect, Alf mused on learning of some of the latest antics of the ruffians who run Syria.

The scoundrels have complained to the United Nations that Syria’s tourism industry has been severely damaged by the 14-month conflict between government forces and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

The prospect of being embroiled in something nasty and of the conflict becoming a civil war perhaps explains some of the reluctance of tourists to go sight-seeing in Syria.

A few years ago the Grumbles were tempted to visit the place on the advice of a bloke called Douglas Scott in an item headed Syrian People Are Friendly on a travel website.

Syria is bounded by the Mediterranean and Lebanon on the west, by Israel and Jordan on the south, by Iraq on the east and by Turkey on the north. The frontier between Syria and Turkey was settled by the Franco Turkish agreement of 22 June 1929.

It is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Syrian people are friendly and peaceful.

These friendly and peaceful people nowadays give people good reasons for steering well clear of their benighted country.

The Syrian authorities are not happy with the consequences, according to a Reuters report (here).

In a letter to the UN General Assembly, Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, said hotel occupancy had dropped from an average of 90 percent before the crisis began in March 2011 to less than 15 percent.

Alf is surprised they can muster any occupancy at all.

Ja’afari confirms that tourism has dropped off more than somewhat.

“In the cities and areas where there is tension, the impact of the crisis on the tourism sector has been totally disastrous: tourism activity has come to a complete halt and hotels have ceased to operate,” Ja’afari wrote in the letter dated May 7.

“All restaurants, roadside rest-stops, fairgrounds and other leisure facilities have also had to close,” he said.

And who’s to blame for this?

Ah, everyone except the thugs who run the country.

Ja’afari blamed the tourism downturn on travel websites for warning tourists to stay away, countries for halting flights to Syria, and “certain armed terrorist groups which target transport and communication routes and transport companies, in addition to terrorizing, killing and abducting civilians.”

The Ambassador obviously has a seriously unhinged grasp of realities.

But tourism operators have grounds to be miffed by the impact on their businesses of the continuing insurgency.

“Some 40 per cent of all those employed in the tourism sector in Syria are estimated to have lost their jobs completely or to have had their hours reduced,” Ja’afari wrote in the three-page letter.

Dunno why the United Nations should have any interest in the rundown of the tourism business when it has profoundly failed to stop the violence.

A UN-backed truce, signed early in April, has been as effective as Parekura Horomia’s dietician.

There are 257 unarmed UN monitors in Syria to “observe” things.

They will be observing the unravelling of the five-week old truce brokered by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said more than 800 have been killed since then.

Being an observer obviously is not much fun.

A UN monitoring team was caught up earlier this week in an attack in northern Idlib province in which at least 21 people were killed and observers were forced to spent a night with rebels who pledged they were protecting them.

Being an overseas visitor to the country is not much fun, either.

According to the Daily Mail (in a report here), Jaafari told the UN Secretary-General that ten foreigners are among the dead recently.

The letter said the ten died ‘while engaging in terrorist armed operations against the Syrian Army’.

Citizens from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt, apparently entered the stricken country illegally and were killed in the flashpoints of Idlib and Homs.

The uprising in Syria began as a peaceful popular revolt.

It has turned into an insurgency amid mounting calls to arm rebels seeking to overthrow Assad.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated more than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the uprising began.

More than 900 have been killed since the April 12 truce went into effect.

Perhaps the Syrians should be promoting adventure tourism.

And perhaps our lefties and greenies will be tempted to go and try the thrills on offer.

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