Syria’s Domino Effect on the Region’s Tourism
With the exception of Jordan, the countries hit hardest by the Syrian crisis are the rare destinations that have both a democracy and secular leadership.
The tense situation in Syria is having a serious impact on travel to neighbouring countries with fresh research today suggesting that interest in travelling to the region as a whole has almost halved.
According to figures released by the hotel comparison site Trivago.co.uk, the number of people looking for places to stay in countries close to Syria was down by an average of 47 per cent, year-on-year.
The biggest drop in searches was for Lebanon (79 per cent), followed by Cyprus (55 per cent), Israel (38 per cent), Jordan (32 per cent) and Turkey (31 per cent).
With the crisis in Syria still dominating the headlines, travellers appear nervous about making trips to neighbouring states, a trend that was especially pronounced when it looked as though the United States might launch bombing raids on the Damascus regime.
“Not surprisingly we have seen a dip in our bookings to Jordan, even though it is a very different and much less troubled country than Syria,” said Fiona Marshall, general manager of KE Adventure, an independent company specialising in trekking, cycling and climbing tours.
“It is a huge shame as before the Syria crisis it looked as though Jordan was going to have a good year. Images of all the refugees in Amman have obviously put people off, but while bookings to Jordan have fallen we have seen increased interest in our trips to Oman.”
KE Adventure’s findings were echoed by other operators. Nikki Davies, marketing manager of long-haul specialists Trailfinders, said that while bookings to countries close to Syria such as Jordan and Lebanon were down, there had been a surge of interest in trips elsewhere.
“People still wanting to travel to that part of the world are booking trips to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates,” she said. “Those wanting to go somewhere completely different a similar distance away (seven hours by plane) have been looking at the Caribbean.”
The drop in interest in trips to the countries surrounding Syria has also led to significant decreases in hotel room rates in the region, Trivago.co.uk reported.
In the Lebanese capital Beirut the average hotel price (now £106) dropped 20 per cent compared to this time last year.
Similarly, the average hotel price in Tel Aviv, Israel (£125) was down 12 per cent from September 2012.
Hotel prices in Jordan have also decreased: Aqaba City is 24 per cent cheaper (£81 per night) this month, and Amman is down six per cent to £85.
The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Syria and has fairly stringent advice on travel to most of the surrounding countries. Anyone considering a trip to the region should consult the foreign office website fco.gov.uk .