Minister: Syria war costs tourism industry $1.5 billion

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Syria’s tourism industry has lost 300 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) in revenues since the country’s brutal conflict broke out in March 2011, Tourism Minister Bishr Riad Yaziji told AFP on Monday.

“The tourism industry has lost some 300 billion Syrian pounds in direct and indirect losses,” Yaziji said.

“There are other damages that are incalculable,” he added, referring to damaged archaeological sites and monuments across the country.

“Some 289 tourism establishments have been damaged” in acts of violence, Yaziji said.

“Though all the country’s provinces have been affected, tourism in Aleppo (in northern Syria) has no doubt suffered the worst.”

The ancient city of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest, was the scene of a massive rebel onslaught in July last year that was met with a major counter-attack by the army.

The city is now divided into pro and anti-regime areas.

Earlier this year, Syrian media quoted the tourism ministry as saying the industry’s revenues had been slashed by 94 percent ever since the start of the country’s conflict.

Prior to the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad 30 months ago, tourism revenue accounted for 12 percent of Syria’s GDP and employed some 11 percent of the country’s workers.

The conflict has created an unprecedented financial crisis in Syria, with inflation hitting record highs.

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