It seems that the problem of contradicting statements returned to flourish among the ranks of the new Syrian government, even within the team of the same Ministry. This problem – which had been among the main obstacles facing journalists and investors with all previous governments, has appeared again. Today a hurricane hits the ministry of tourism with the special circumstances overwhelming Syria these days. This hurricane is nothing but a sarcastic contradiction between the statements of the Director of Statistics and Planning in the Ministry of Tourism Kasem Darwish, and the statements of the Tourism Minister Lamia Assi herself.
The Director stated that the hotels occupancy rates reached 40 percent. While the Minister of Tourism, Lamia Assi said in an interview to the Middle East newspaper: “Syria is experiencing a lack of tourists and the occupancy rates for this summer collapsed from 99 percent to 0 percent”. The newspaper quoted managers of major hotels in Damascus; they confirmed the words of the Minister.
Contradicting the media reports, Darwish pointed out that the tourist season has witnessed a remarkable recovery recently as a result of offers by the tourism activities and Syrian Airlines, which contributed to the recovery of the whole movement of internal tourism.
What is the reason behind this discrepancy? Is it possible that the newspaper has rigged the words of the Minister, could it be due to the lack of coordination between the Minister and the Directors? Or did the Director, -which brought us back to the universal figures of the former Minister- improvise his words without consulting the new Minister?
In all cases, this contradiction reflects the confusion which the ministry is living now.
The Minister of Tourism said during the interview: “Tourism sector is the most affected sector by the events that are taking place in Syria, it received a strong and direct hit.” She added that “Tourism has decreased by 26 percent during the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year, the sixth month and this month have witnessed a noticeable decline in tourism movement by over 60 percent, decline came mainly from Europe and America and the Arab Gulf countries .”