Tourism Situation in Tartous:

The Syrian tourism industry is facing big problems and obstacles, similar to the neighboring states of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Coronavirus pandemic and the inflation of prices as well as the shortage of male professional tourist staff due to conscription were the main problems affecting the tourism sector in Syria. 

Syria’s tourist officials and managers expressed to Syria Times these problems and how they work hard to overcome them.

 

Tartous Governorate’s Director of Tourism Eng. Yazan al-Sheikh said to Syria Times that this tourist season faces problems because of Coronavirus Pandemic and astronomical inflation of prices which enforced big numbers of Syrian families to stay home and not even think about a trip to the seashore or a mountain touristic tour in Tartous.

“The governorate of Tartous didn’t register officially any Corona infection but all governmental organizations and directorates have taken serious preemptive measures to protect the locals and tourists from any Corona infection,” Eng. Yazan al-Sheikh said during a meeting in his office at the Directorate of Tourism.

“The governmental managers and employees are touring all tourist motels, hotels, restaurants and coffee shops to supervise the use of hand-gloves, face -masks and sterilizers at their entrances, WC, tables and kitchens,” Eng. Yazan al-Sheikh added.

The Manager of Tourist Quality and Supervision Section at Tartous Governorate’s Directorate of Tourism, Eng. Wassif Ghaebour highlighted the precautionary measures taken by tourism employees patrols.

“The tourist season in Tartous starts in June and ends in October. During these four months, Syrian families like to spend their vacations in holiday homes, chalets and hotels by the sea fleeing from their crowded cities’ and traffic jams,” Eng. Wassif Ghaebour said to Syria Times.

“ The Ministry of Tourism issued the order No 152 on May 31, 2020 to re-open all hotels and tourist resorts while adhering to some health conditions such as: prohibiting hubble-bubble “Narjellah”, committing to 2m-distance between tables, booking only 40% of seats and chairs and the rest 60% stay empty to prevent crowding- 6 persons on each table maximum- using sterilizers in the entrances, masks and gloves for workers and employees with hair-cover for kitchen workers and chefs, one -time use paper menu of food and one-time use plastic covers for tables and other preemptive measures,” Eng. Wassif Ghaebour said.

The governmental and private-owned hotels and resorts are starting  their preparations for the tourism season after few weeks of closing because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Eng. Nizar Ghanem, 44-year-old, Director of the governmental  Syrian Transport and Tourism Company – that  runs Blue Bay Resort- referred to the big challenges negatively affecting  the Syrian tourism industry such as the world’s Coronavirus, inflation of prices and the American -European sanctions which prevent European and Arab tourists to come to Syria.

“Currently the Syrian tourism sector depends only on the Syrian local citizens who come from Damascus, about 90%, and 10 % from Homs, Hama, Aleppo and other Syrian cities. Tartous is somehow close to Damascus, so the Damascene families prefer to come to it while Aleppo’s families prefer Latakia more,” Eng. Nizar Ghanem said during a meeting in the Blue Bay Resort. 

“ We are working hard to keep the high-quality services, cleanliness of seashore, swimming pool and chalets with the inflation of prices of sterilizers and washing materials. For example, the cost of laundry of a pillow has increased from 35 SP to 95 SP and prices of washing materials has increased in the last few weeks but we cannot increase our prices because of the people’s income. It is a real challenge to keep our high-quality services with low prices,” Eng. Nizar Ghanem said.

Nizar Nadaf, the Manager of private-owned Posedon Restaurant at Tartous Cornish said that the owners of private hotels, restaurants and coffeeshops are facing serious problems and they haven’t  made any profits in the last few months.

“ I closed my restaurant for about two months and kept giving salaries to my waiters, chefs, and employees. At the same time, the Municipality of Tartous and other governmental departments want me to pay all taxes and bills of electricity, water, although my restaurant was closed,” Mr. Nadaf said during a meeting in his restaurant.

“About 50% of Tartous’ coffeeshops and small restaurants were closed because of their financial problems and Coronavirus’s affects. I am calling on the Syrian government not to take rent, taxes, fees and bills of electricity from the private-own tourist resorts and restaurant in the curfew months to encourage and support them to keep their work and continue paying salaries to their employees and workers,” Mr. Nadaf said.

In spite of the difficulties facing the tourism sector in Syria, the Syrian government alongside the private sector works hard to overcome all problems and to make all Syrian people enjoy their summer holiday by sea.

End.

 

Reported by: Obaida Hamad/ Inas Abdulkareem

Photos: Obaida Hamad