UNITED NATIONS - Syria has complained to the United Nations that its tourism industry has been severely damaged by a 14-month conflict between government forces and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad, which has raised fears of civil war.
In a letter to the 193-member UN General Assembly made public on Thursday, Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, said hotel occupancy had dropped from an average of 90 percent before the crisis began in March 2011 to less than 15 percent.
"In the cities and areas where there is tension, the impact of the crisis on the tourism sector has been totally disastrous: tourism activity has come to a complete halt and hotels have ceased to operate," Ja'afari wrote in the letter dated May 7.
"All restaurants, roadside rest-stops, fairgrounds and other leisure facilities have also had to close," he said.
The United Nations says 9,000 people have been killed during the revolt, while Damascus blames foreign-backed "terrorists" for killing 2,600 soldiers and police. An April 12 UN-backed truce has failed to stop the bloodshed.