In remarks published by SANA, the state news agency, Bisher Yazigi pledged help for the area, predicting an influx of visitors because “various activities are planned… during the summer”. There was no word on what these activities might be.
The upbeat projection comes as some 2,000 fighters and civilians holed up in besieged rebel-held parts of Homs city prepare to withdraw under a deal with the authorities.
After the withdrawal, the former rebel stronghold will be turned over to the government.
But as Telegaph Travel reported in March, both the city of Homs and many of its most famed destinations – including the Krak des Chevaliers castle – have suffered enormous damage during fighting.
The Old City of Homs, formerly a tourist attraction, has been reduced to little more than rubble, with homes, shops and religious sites levelled.
Indeed, the prospects of a flood of tourists into any part of the country, where a civil war has killed more than 150,000 people, would appear to be slim.
In June 2013, UNESCO added six sites to its list of “World Heritage in Danger” – the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, the ruins at Bosra and Palmyra (pictured above), and the castles of Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din. In Aleppo, Syria’s second city, the minaret of the 8th-century Umayyad mosque was destroyed last April, and UNESCO has warned that “archaeological sites are being systematically looted and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects has reached unprecedented levels.”
The Foreign Office advises Britons against all travel to the whole of Syria. Click here for its advice in full.
The future of tourism in Syria
As the civil war enters its fourth year, Telegraph Travel reports on the damage to Syria’s tourism industry, and how it could be five years before visitors can return
Axis of Adventure: Syria
From the Archives: Peter Hughes is overwhelmed by the sites – and the hospitality shown to him – in Syria, a country he had expected to find difficult