Moscow: A Russian travel company is planning to fly daredevil tourists to the heart of the Syrian civil war so they can get a taste of frontline action. As the war against ISIS rages on, the firm has applied to be branded ‘Assad Tour’ after the Syrian tyrant.
The aim is to provide customised trips with no life insurance for those paying around £990 per head for holidays from hell which will start from Moscow.
The man apparently behind the oddball venture, Anatoly Aronov, is convinced there will be demand from tourists he labels ‘crazies’.
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,’ he said.
On whether he would provide insurance, he said: ‘What for? It’s your decision to travel there. If you go to mountains and fall there, it’s your problem.’
He predicted these ‘niche’ five or five-day vacations for adventurous, well-heeled tourists ‘will be popular for about six months’.
He added: ‘We don’t need too many people, 20 to 30 a month will be enough.
‘People get on a plane, fly to Damascus, check in at a hotel. I phone up a Syrian who has a car and he drives them around the sights.
‘People are curious to see the history made in front of them.’
He has applied to register the trademark ‘Assad Tours’ for a travel company called Megopolis with the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks.
The trips are evidently dedicated to feared Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, a longtime ally of Moscow.
The West has accused Russian air strikes in Syria of targeting moderate foes of Assad as well as jihadist groups seen as plotting terrorist atrocities.
He aims to exploit three ‘advantages’ Russians currently enjoy in Syria.
They include the presence of Russian military forces, the large number of Syrians who studied in Russian universities and gained some fluency in the language, and the likelihood that many Syrians will be willing to host Russians to earn a little money.
‘The company is currently having talks with hotel and transport companies in Syria, and has sent letters with description of the tours to the Embassy of Syria and the relevant authorities,’ he said.
A deadly civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011 as the government is fighting various terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al Nusra Front.
The violence has seen more than 220,000 people killed, 7.6million internally displaced and four million fleeing the country, according to UN estimates.
Aronov said he would be happy to include British and US tourists on his Syrian odysseys.
‘Of course, we will be happy to take foreign nationals, no problem,’ he said. ‘Syrian guides know the Russian language very well, as a rule, they studied it at school or university. At the same time, they speak good English, so there will be no language barrier.’
He said: ‘The tour costs $1,500 (USD) for five days, including flights, accommodation, food and the guide’s services.