Russian Company Wants To Sell Trips To Syria’s Front Lines

Open Jaw

A deadly conflict zone that has seen more than 4 million of its own citizens flee the country seems unlikely to make anyone's travel wish list for 2016, but Russian travel agency Megapolis thinks otherwise.

Starting next year, it is hoping to sell what it has dubbed ‘Assad Tours’: 4 to 5 day trips to the Syrian front line.

Named for vilified Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Russian ally, the packages would cost about $1,500. That covers flights, accommodation, food and the services of guides. It doesn’t include insurance, but that might not be a deal-breaker for anyone crazy enough to take such a trip.

Anatoly Aronov, President of the First Patent Company, reportedly helped to file Megapolis's licensing application with Moscow. "People are curious to see the history made in front of them," he told the Daily Mail. "We will be 1 km. away from the front at the very closest. But not any closer. It's safe. On no occasion will we be giving weapons to tourists." 

While he may make the understatement of the year by describing the product’s appeal as "niche," Aronov told Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta of several selling points he sees for Russians travelling to Syria right now.

He said there are a large number of Syrians who have studied at Russian universities and therefore speak the language, meaning tourists don't need to worry about interpreters. Aranov claims that Syrians are also used to Russians due to his country's deployment of troops to the civil war-ravaged country.

He said many Syrians are so hard up for cash they might happily offer cheap accommodation to visitors.

Megapolis is reported to already be in talks with hotels and transportation services in Syria. However, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm), told Russian news agency Interfax on Tuesday that it had not yet received the company's application. Izo Arakhamiya, head of its legal department, said: "There is no Assad Tour in the register and they haven't filed an application. Therefore they are not authorized to sell these trips."

Aronov predicts that the trips will attract men aged 30 to 45 who are "educated, intelligent, perhaps traders or commercial directors. They are curious about new impressions, new 'hot spots'."

In a moment of candour, Aronov told the Daily Mail: "You're asking how many crazies will show up? All tourists are crazy - they are paying money for things they can see free on television."

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