Unless you've been living under a rock, you're already familiar with the fact that Syria is in the middle of a very major and devastating war. But that's not enough to stop the Assad-backed Syrian Tourism Ministry from promoting the beaches near Damascus, a major Syrian city, as the ideal vacation spot for jet setters and lovers of crystal-clear Mediterranean waters.
On its Facebook page, Syria's Tourism Ministry is actually promoting a video, shot on the Syrian coast, boasting jet ski-lined beaches, people frolicking in what seems like beautiful, warm water, and lush scenery. It's a far cry from the reality of an estimated 400,000 war-related deaths in recent years and millions of displaced Syrians. Hello, cognitive dissonance.
Upbeat techno music aside, the Syrian beach image most Westerners are familiar with seeing looks more like over-crowded boats escaping the once-glamorous nation.
The video also seems to ignore the total destruction of entire cities in the region, a near-complete lack of tourism infrastructure (imagine getting hurt on a Syrian vacation — is there a hospital you can even go to where treatment won't be in short, desperate supply?), but none of this is terribly surprising. The Assad government has actually released several tourism-touting videos since the outbreak of war in 2011, and seems to ignore the risk such "vacations" pose to potential travelers. One of the agency's more popular videos was inviting tourists to Aleppo, which is hardly even standing at this point.
But really, the best (worst) part of the horribly insensitive beach tourism campaign is the end of the video, where the slogan "Syria — Always Beautiful" is presented as casually as the jet skis and bikini-clad women they seem to think can safely roam their beaches.
If it's a properly safe beach you're after, we might also suggest Hawaii.
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