Unrest takes toll on Syrian tourism, minister says
Four months of unrest in Syria have dealt a hard blow to the country's tourism industry, Tourism Minister Lamia Assai said in remarks published Friday.
"Tourism has been the sector hardest hit by the incidents in Syria," Assai told the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, DPA reported.
"Tourist arrivals from Europe and the Arab Gulf have almost stopped," she said. Europe is Syria's main tourism market.
Syria has been gripped since March by unprecedented protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The sharp drop in foreign tourists has caused occupancy rates at hotels to plummet "to zero" during the summer holiday season, which starts in June, Assai said.
"Hotel reservations have been cancelled as insurers refuse to cover tourists wishing to visit Syria," she added.
Tourism accounted for 12 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the minister.