• Short Summary

    A three-day conference to discus tourism in the Arab world opened in Damascus on Tuesday (22 October).

  • Description

    A three-day conference to discus tourism in the Arab world opened in Damascus on Tuesday (22 October).

    Twenty Arab countries were represented there - ten of them by their own Ministers of Tourism. Delegates also included representatives of foreign travel federations, the Arab League, the International Labour Organisation and other international bodies.

    It is the second conference on tourism organised by Arab states.

    The conference is being presided over by the Syrian Minister for Tourism, Said Abdullah Al-Khani.

    The Secretary-General of The Arab Tourism Federation, Said Abdel-Rahman Abou-Rabban, addressed delegates on the opening day. He supported a number of recommendations made to the conference by a team of experts who had been meeting over the weekend. These included setting up an Arab tourism promotion board, easing travel restrictions for Arab nationals on inter-Arab visits and a co-ordinated plan for the future of tourism in Arab states.

    The conference comes at a time when Syria itself is keenly promoting its own tourist attractions. The Government is spending quite heavily on a campaign in the western press to attract non-Arab visitors to Syria. The majority of visitors to the country are Arab nationals from surrounding states and these make up a large proportion of the million-or-so visitors a year.

    But the number of tourists -- which reached over 1,300,000 in 1972 -- has dropped recently. The latest figures show that only 700,000 foreigners came to Syria in 1973 -- the year of the October War with Israel. Now the Government is determined to reverse this trend ... and the country's considerable attractions must be a great help in this drive.

    SYNOPSIS: The National Museum in Syria's capital, Damascus. It's an appropriate setting for the second Conference on Arab Tourism which was attended by twenty Arab states - ten of them sent their own Minister of Tourism. Said Abdel-Rahman Abou-Rabbah (Secretary-General of the Arab Tourism Federation) addressed the meeting.

    Damascus itself is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East and was already a prosperous urban centre at the time of Abraham.

    In Arabic it's called 'Al-Faha' meaning The Fragrant Place and referring to the many gardens and fountains there.

    The city -- known also as The Pearl of the East -- has several first-class modern hotels. The Syrian Government has recently launched a drive to attract foreign visitors.

    The capital's Old City contains the principal mosques and markets.

    The Old City's Omayyad Mosque is over one-thousand-two-hundred years old. It's said to have been built on the site of an early Christian Church. It's been damaged by fire and the ravages of invaders over the centuries ...but -- despite these disasters -- it's still a fine example of Islamic architecture.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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