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 Dec 17 2009 

Yilmaz: Turkey Seeks to Develop Tourist Relations with Syria

 Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture Ismet Yilmaz said on Wednesday that the coming years will witness a massive surge in Turkish tourism in Syria, which Turkey views as in important partner in all sectors, not just the tourism sector.

In a statement to SANA, Yilmaz called on Turkish citizens and investors to visit Syria and learn about its rich tourism elements, facilitations in the field of investment, and the achievements that make it suitable for investment projects.

He also affirmed the strength of Syrian-Turkish relations of all fields since they are based on mutual interests, saying that these relations are deep-rooted and that Turkey is satisfied over their level.

Yilmaz said that the number of Turkish tourists visiting Syria increased to more than 500,000 after canceling entry visas, while Syrian tourists visiting Turkey increased to more than 400,000. He estimated that the number of tourists from each country will exceed 1 million in two years.

He also noted that a Turkish cultural center will be opened in Damascus to develop culture relations and help those who wish to learn the Turkish language, hoping that the Syrian side will open cultural centers in Turkey.

The Undersecretary went on to sat that his ministry's goals for the next five years aim at making Turkey one of the top five countries in the world in tourism, saying that Turkey allocated USD 100 million for tourist promotion in 2010. He added that tourists in 2010 are expected to exceed 27 million, with hope of them exceeding 34 million in 2012.

In 2008, more than 26.5 million tourists visited Turkey, with the revenues of tourism amounting to USD 21,951,000,000, Yilmaz said, pointing out that despite the global financial crisis, the rate of tourists visiting Turkey increased 1% between 2008 and 2009.

In recent years, Syrian-Turkish relations witnessed remarkable developments in all fields, the latest of which was the formation of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council and canceling entry visas.

H. Sabbagh SANA

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