Ideal getaway or final destination? Syrian tourist board promotes coastal resort in wartime (VIDEO)
The Syrian Ministry of Tourism is not about to let an armed conflict and the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians get in the way of promoting the nation as a must-see holiday destination.
It released a video depicting a completely different side of the largely chaotic, violence-ridden country.
In the two-minute clip, the coastal town of Tartus is showcased as a place where sun worshipers can enjoy azure blue waters and sandy beaches.
It even displays people jet-skiing with crowds filling up sun loungers in the background.
While Syria is without question a beautiful country, the ongoing battle between government forces, rebel groups and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 470,000 people.
The UN’s Syria Regional Refugee Response team have calculated the official number of displaced people at 4.8 million, although it is likely to be higher.
However, a statement on the ministry’s official Facebook claims that the country has experienced a 30 percent increase in tourism levels.
Tartus is located along the Mediterranean coast of Syria and is regarded to be an area controlled by the Assad government.
Earlier this year, the coastal city was struck by a series of suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Some 67 kilometers north, in what was a co-ordinated attack, the city of Jableh was also hit by three car bombs.
In total 140 people are reported to have died.
Other recommendations on the Syria Tourism website include Palmyra and Latakia.
The UNESCO site of Palmyra is home to ancient ruins dating back to the first century. However, after falling under ISIS control for almost a year in 2015 many of the city’s archaeology sites were destroyed.
Meanwhile, the area surrounding the port city of Latakia has been the scene of violence as recently as August, when the Syrian Army clashed with Jaish Al-Fateh militant group.
The country has lost in excess of $254 billion since 2010, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.
Syria is certainly not the first country to attempt to keep its tourism numbers up in times of turmoil.
In the 1970s Northern Ireland’s tourism board had a similarly difficult job selling Belfast to potential holidaymakers, and even themselves, in the wake of IRA bombings.
Northern Ireland tourism chief Robert Hall did his best though, describing Belfast as an “interesting place if you want some excitement.”
“We cannot guarantee the safety of anybody anymore than the Israeli tourist board can’t guarantee you won’t tread on a landmine,” Hall can also be heard to tell a reporter, in footage released by BBC Archive.