Once considered the backwater of Middle East tourism, Syria has become a trend-setting destination for Arabs and Westerners alike.

An improved political climate since 2009 has helped breathe life into the national tourism industry, with an astounding 50% growth in tourism in 2010 and a much-needed building initiative of new and renovated hotels in such cities as Damascus and Aleppo.

A wide range of cultural and archeological sites from its Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Caliphate, Crusader, Ottoman and French history include the stunning Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, the Crusader castle fortress of Krak de Chaveiliers, the public baths and splendid open markets of Aleppo, the still-functioning Byzantine monastery of Saidnaya, and the lost Greek city of Palmyra. Coupled with Arab hospitality, the Palestinian visitor to this exciting, diverse nation will soon understand the classic Arabic saying: Everyone has two homes; their own and Syria.

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