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النسخة العربية

The Speech of the Minister of Tourism
in the Second Tourism Investment Forum


HE Eng. Mhd. Naji Otri the Prime Minister, host of this festival your Excellency Ministers and Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me in the inauguration  of the Second Tourist Investment Forum to welcome all our partners in the governmental team, headed by HE the Prime Minister, Chairman of the Supreme Tourism Council, who offer the tourism sector every possible assistance, through the decisions of the council, that are based on deep analytical studies to draw the outline of a tourist environment that may attract investments within the perspective of our government under the wise leadership of our president  Bashar Al-Assad.

I would like also to great all our partners in the investment process that encompass investors, hotel administration, bankers, financiers, contractors, consultant engineering offices, together with all partners who paved the way for new projects and tourist procurement from the land lords of those entities.

All of us are partners; therefore, we're meeting in this forum to achieve optimum benefit in bringing together the investor and the owner of the investment site in our country which witnessed the dawn of human material and fiscal transactions.

Hence I would like to hail you all in this forum, through which you will be able to scrutinize the chances for investment in our country, and we on our part will co-operate with you to try to draw the beautiful picture of tourist investment in our country the Syrian Arab Republic, that picture which we embarked on painting it since the year 2004.

The First Tourist Investment Forum, which was held during the period between 23-25 April 2005, had formed the corner stone and spring board to launch our investment plans. Yet the decisions promulgated by the Supreme Council for Investment prior to the convening of that forum, had created the proper attractive environment which polarized hundred and hundreds of participating investors, not because it formed a pattern for advanced preparation of project sites, but because it reflected the will of the government to forge the new investment environment which cape with the policy of reform and the pacing towards the market economy, through offering new facilities to investors in such a sector of economy which avails the chance for utmost competition capabilities.

The first forum came as result of what had been achieved by the executive program of the Syrian Tourism, in rousing the number of tourists from 8% in the nineties to reach 15% during the period between 2000 and 2005 depending on the Syrian Tourism constituents, emanating from splendid history & archeology and security, where investors came to Syria attracted by the Syrian product expressing the charm of the east, where its component roams among history, archeology, nature, traditions, safe living and hospitality, so the number of tourists visiting Syrian reached 3 million four hundred. Where as expenditures reached 2.2 Billions in 2005 hotel guests reached 1.400 guests the nights exceeded 8 millions and total nights in furnished apartments (26) millions, the classified beds (43) thousands; food chairs (222) thousand, total investments until 2005 (3) billion dollars; employment opportunities (80) thousands, in 2005.

Due to the increase in the number in tourists, tourism se3ctor in Syria flourished. The Ministry of Tourism took the initiative to put an integrated study before the Supreme Council of Tourism, that included a suggestion a new method of operation that's totally tourism investment sties and put them forward to investment before participants of forums, offering the chance to an investor to practice a new method of investment contracting. It included the BOT way of investment, for a period that may reach (45) years, allowing him to assign the works to another contractor. And that an investor would submit his bid solely without other parties, for one of the projects that are put forward in the forum.

The achievements that culminated in the beginning of 2005, forged a new picture of the investment environment, in collaboration with what had been achieved by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, in establishing the new investment environment in Syria.

Hundreds of investors took part in the first forum, held in
23-25/4/2005, at the end of the first forum, investors began work in two directions: the first one was to follow up the procedures of bidding, bid opening and awarding. The second path was to follow up the activities of the first forum, collecting the ensuing decisions and procedures, then analyzing them. Reviewing the sties that witnessed the greater number of demand and versa, analyzing the toes and froes of this procedure.

The results of the submitted offers resulted in the awarding of /13/ projects, with an investment cost surpassed USD600 millions in eight governorates. The thing which raised the costs of the new investments in the field of tourism (under construction products) from ($100) million in 2003 to $ 300 millions in 2004; and from $800 million in 2005, of them (200) million for land owned by the private sector and (600) million for the first forum. This development coincized with the inauguration of new hotels. HE President Bashar Al-Assad had inaugurated with H.H Prince Walid Bin Talal had inaugurated the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus last month. Besides, Sheraton Sadnaya, commenced initial operation last month, as well as the traditional hotel of Bloudan Samir Amis Palmyra. Yet it's expected to inaugurate the two Aleppo Sheraton Hotels soon, and Soufitel Aphamia - Lattakia, Al-Nakhil Compound in Damascus suburb, test operation in the sixth month this year, before summer season; also Antradous Project will be announced officially on Tartous Beach next Saturday.

As a result of the First Forum, and coping with its spree, operation had commenced in the third path, including  the formation of work teams to survey lands and all sites that are liable for investing, defining the tourist employment programs that achieve the economic and tourist investment feasibility of the projects. Taking into consideration the increasing demand on the this sector, in addition to the transition to a new level of operation with regard to the bulk of the presently put forward projects; where integrated  development projects do not only tackle hotel accommodation,  but also developed more and more to include additional values, such as Disney Lands, Hydro Sportive compounds, desert races, embodying historical and traditional life, along with video – Audeo shows. So that to increase the days of tourist activities and accommodation. Such path included also definition of required procedures to prepare those lands, in order to make them ready for putting them forward for investment by the inauguration date of the Second Forum;  defining the parties that are interested in the conducting of these projects, the execution schedules.

Work teams have listed eighty-two chosen sites that met the required conditions, and classified them into three categories. The first one included forty-five sites, and preparations to put them forward have been accomplished, along with their suitable tourist employment programs; this task represented an investment cost exceeding $ /1/ Billion Dollars, $ / 550/ out of them for hotel investment and $ / 450/ million Dollars for investment in added values. This specified clearly the transformation which took place in the Tourist Investment Employment programs of the projects put forward in the second Forum, towards the added values. Moreover, hotel accommodation rooms reached seven thousand, and eight hundred comprising thirteen thousand beds, in addition to thirteen thousand food chairs. The employment program included, historical hotels, environmental tourist projects, Integrated Costal, mountainous Region’s Health Resorts Development, the Tourist Compounds;  the  second segment (slide) included twenty-seven sites, all preparation procedures will be accomplished in definite time, this formed another vision of tourist employment, such as investment in winter tourism, caves, inundated islands, along with hotel training to cope with the increase in investment. The investor has been given the chance to chose the employment program that suits each kind of investment. As for the third tourist investment segment, it included putting forwards ten projects, within the periphery of future investment, as promising chances for the coming stage.

The Tourist Supreme Council also approved of conducting Audio-Visual Shows in /5/ five archeological sites through the Forum.

Following completion of awarding procedures of the First Forum  contracts, the final results have been analyzed in order to provide the suitable circumstances to ensure the success of the Second Forum.  Specially in promoting investment in tourist development areas. Results of the analysis had been submitted to the Supreme Council of Tourism last week. Together with the required suggestions. Following extensive discussion, the Council approve of allowing contracting for the second time under mutual agreement, and at the end of the investment period according to the B.O.T., method of investment, with the same investor, so that the period will exceed /45/days, for projects of development objectives, the Council also endorsed other new tourist investment methods, by applying the lease contract for /99/ ninety-nine years in tourist development areas. Against an annual rate of returns, and to apply the form of assignment or selling of rights for a period of 49 – 99 years, for huge investment projects, in coastal areas, according to the bulk of investment with the possibility of inducing other investor later on to complete the project, following the endorsement of the plan of the region, and finishing of the infrastructure, and a pioneering project including the execution of number of hotel rooms. Allowing to settle the remuneration of the selling of right in installments on ten years.

Also exemption from paying stamp duty   has been adopted for contracts of tourist investing projects under the formula of ( leasing- BOT- selling the right of usufruct); and to include  investing in hotel training within exemptions and facilities as per decision 186, in special conditions.

Contracting formulas- applied in meetings of tourist investing market-  have achieved complete flexibility for investors whereas multi investing formulas such as leasing,BOT with convenient terms, selling the right of usufruct with its multi margins according to location and tourist function program have achieved a complete range for investors; all in all necessary flexibility was achieved to give tourist investing in Syria a new take off.

In parallel to preparing fir meeting of second investing market, ministry of tourism launch programs of tourist developing in tourist developing areas; programs of elevating the quality of services in sights of tourist visit, in addition to what has been adopted concerning freeing prices in tourist installations which are conditioned by realizing criterion of international quality, at the same time preserving special prices for Syrians. Also necessary programs to launch campaign of tourist promoting and marketing in the main exporting tourists countries have been adopted, and in the immigrants; simultaneously to make use of tenth quinquennial plan of double budget for promoting in ministry of tourism starting from next year.

 
Ministry of tourism aims as already mentioned to reach the number of seven millions tourists by 2010; and those staying in hotels 3 millions which achieve tourist incomes of more than five billion US dollars annually; and to secure working opportunities related to tourist sector of more than hundred fifty thousand directly; and three hundred thousand indirect opportunities. Also it aims to increase new seven thousand beds in average annually. And for annual tourist investments to reach billion dollars; we are determined to achieve these goals.

Ladies and gentleman

Every year our happiness renew by meeting you, and our pride glooms by participation of our brothers and friends who came from all over the world.

I would like to thank Mr. prime ministers, the head of tourist supreme council, the council's members, Ministers, governors, all ministries, local and central administrations, state planning commission, federation of tourist chambers, federation of commerce chambers, and those supporting organizing the meeting for the efforts paid to succeed this meeting. Also I would like to thank all employees in ministry of tourism who worked on completing the execution of all procedures in due times.

I am honored finally to address his Excellency president Bashar Al-Assad by highest thanks and appreciation's on behalf of tourist sector in Syria for his patronage of this rising sector. We pledge his Excellency to work hard to make Syria an important tourist shrine on the map of world tourist destinations through formulating attractive tourist products with high quality based on richness and diverseness of tourist sources which suit requirements of tourist markets. All done by complete tourist sector, coherent, trained as to insure tourism to be a base among bases of national economy in Syria; and an engine of balanced development in all over the country; also to be a bridge for creative dialogue between peoples and culture contributing in sticking out Syrian civilized picture as well as Arab area; and to build a a balanced and secure future for the world.

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