A Russian travel company is planning to launch holiday tours to war-torn Syria next year, with a focus on the front line of the country’s bloody civil war.
Megapolis Kurort has submitted an application to trademark its Assad Tour to the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent), according to the Moscow City News Agency, and hopes to be able to start selling the trip in 2016.
Syria has been in the midst of a civil war since 2011, which has seen the deaths of an estimated 220,000 and created 4 million refugees, with the Foreign Office advising Britons against all travel to the entire country. In early December, MPs voted to launch RAF airstrikes of Islamic State targets in the Middle Eastern country.
Syrians run for safety in the town of Douma Photo: Getty
The Foreign Office advises Britons to “leave now by any practical means”, adding that “the situation remains extremely volatile and dangerous”.
• Unusual holiday destinations where the terror risk is low
“The applicant, Megapolis Ltd., expects to launch tours from Moscow to Syria next year, with the possibility of a trip to the front line”
Anatoly Aronov, of the First Patent Company
Russia, also involved in the fighting, is supportive of heavily-criticised president Bashar al-Assad, after whom the holiday is thought to be named.
Anatoly Aronov, president of the First Patent Company, which assisted in filing the application, told the news agency: “The applicant, Megapolis Ltd., expects to launch tours from Moscow to Syria next year, with the possibility of a trip to the front line.”
The trips will last four to five days and be intended for small groups of three to five people, Aronov said.
The Holiday Beach Resort near Tartous in a photo posted on Facebook this August Photo: Holiday Beach Resort/Facebook
He said that Megapolis, which earlier this year began similar tours to Eastern Ukraine, where unrest followed a Russian invasion, was already in touch with the Russian Embassy in Syria and was negotiating with hotels and transport companies.
“Despite the crisis in the tourism industry, there are always people who are willing to combine the cognitive goals with the opportunity to see natural disasters or visit the places located near the fighting,” said Aronov.
The Russian Federal Tourism Agency, however, claimed not to have received an application and told Russian news agency Interfax that Megapolis is therefore not authorised to sell the trips.
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The British Foreign Office strongly advises against all travel to Syria (Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
A spokesperson for the Russia Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina, said the tours would be illegal as the company could not guarantee the safety of guests.
Telegraph Travel reported earlier this month that the Syrian regime was actively promoting tourism to the country, despite the civil war.
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) – the government mouth piece – reported in October that ministries are to send “promotional items” overseas to bolster the tourism industry and, “facilitate tourism promotion activities abroad.”