Tourist agency plans ‘Assad Tours,’ bringing Russians to the front lines of Syria's civil war
The Russian tourist agency Megapolis is planning to sell tours to Syria, where travelers will have the opportunity to visit the front lines of the ongoing civil war, according to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which spoke to Anatoly Aronov, the president of a patent company.
Aronov told Novaya Gazeta that Megapolis has applied to register the trademark "Assad Tours," which would arrange customized tours lasting 4-5 days for groups of 3-5 individuals. Aronov says the trips will cost roughly $1,500 per person, including the costs of airfare and accommodations.
According to Aronov, "Assad Tours" hopes to exploit three "advantages" Russians currently enjoy in Syria: the presence of Russian troops, the large number of Syrians who studied in Russian universities and gained some fluency in the Russian language, and the likelihood that many Syrians will be willing to host Russians to earn a little money.
Aronov, who acknowledges that tourist trips to the front lines of the Syrian civil war will be a "niche" industry, says the tourist company is already in talks with Syrian hotels and transportation services. It's also written official letters to the Syrian embassy and relevant ministries. Aronov says Megapolis doesn't expect any problems getting permission from officials to conduct its tours.
Asked what he expects demand to be for such tourism, Aronov responded, “You're asking how many crazies will show up? All tourists are crazy—they pay money to see things they could watch for free on television.”