I was reading Sky News website recently; catching up on all the latest, if not slightly skewed, news from around the globe. During my scrolling of the Top Stories, I stumbled upon an article about Syria.
Now, when someone mentions Syria to me, I immediately think of death, destruction and millions of fleeing refugees. However, this story was a slight departure from the usual. This was an article about the fact that the national tourism board of the country had released a new video, entitled 'Always Beautiful'.
I don't claim to know much about Syria; I've never been, and it's not somewhere that has ever really been given much consideration. I've previously travelled to Egypt and Turkey, but never delved any further. I'm unsure as to quite why this is, but it is more than likely to do with the instability in the region. This is the same reason I didn't make it to Jordan and Israel, unfortunately, although both were included in an itinerary during one trip to Egypt.
The short video focuses on the beautiful beaches, palm trees sun and jet skiing. What it doesn't focus on is the civil war that's been raging through the nation for the past few years.
The video has divided opinions; particularly amongst Syrians. Twitter exploded with diverse views from residents who were in total agreement of how beautiful their country is and those who were absolutely aghast at the fact their country is spending money promoting itself to foreign tourists when there are people being killed and fleeing from the nation every day.
It's certainly an interesting debate. Should Syria's government abandon every other facet of their economy in order to gain back control of their country? Or do they understand that other aspects of life in Syria still need to go on?
I recently viewed a video on Facebook, which showed the capital of Aleppo. The film showed a before and after viewpoint of how the city looked prior to the invasion and just how completely ravaged it is now. The contrast is truly shocking. And if you consider the damage to the buildings, it then leads you to thinking about the innocent residents who have literally been bombed out of their homes and lives.
I'm not someone who is interested in beach holidays, so the promotional video does nothing for me. I live by the beach all year round. Admittedly with *slightly* different weather, but also with far less chance of being shelled.
I have worked for and with numerous tourism organisations over the years and no one EVER advertises the crap parts of their area; this goes without saying. However, quickly skirting over an inner city drugs problem; or failing to highlight that you might well get mugged if you travel down particular streets late at night is a *touch* different from completely ignoring a civil war.
Still, in saying that, I still can't quite make up my mind whether I think the video is insensitive; plain stupid; or just the relatively normal workings of a government department that is still desperately trying to function.
What do you think of the video? Should Syria be concentrating on its own people before reaching out and inviting others in? Or do you think it's a great idea and would happily consider spending a late summer holiday there?