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Syria's Tourism Ministry hopes to lure visitors, despite war

Domestic tourism failed to compensate for the major losses incurred by Syria’s tourism sector as a result of the war.
A journalist stands at the remains of the Temple of Bel in the historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki  SEARCH "PALMYRA SANADIKI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES - RTSD71B

DAMASCUS, Syria — Although not many people are planning vacations to Syria these days, Tourism Minister Bishr Yaziji remains busy promoting domestic tourism in territories that remain under government control.

Before civil war broke out in March 2011, Syria had been one of the world's leading tourist destinations in the Middle East, attracting millions of people from around the world thanks to its rich cultural heritage and history — Damascus and Aleppo are two of the world's oldest cities — and the beauty and diversity of its nature, including the sea, mountains and desert. Syria is home to more than 14,000 archaeological sites, 65 castles and a panoply of museums, mosques, churches and historic temples, many of which have unfortunately been destroyed during the war.

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