A Wigan tour company taking intrepid travellers to all corners of the world is offering another look at a country in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Lupine Travel, founded by Dylan Harris, has added tours of Syria to its impressive roster of visits to far-flung locations.
Wiganers are most likely to have recently heard about the Middle Eastern country due to the appalling violence of the civil war which has raged in recent years.
However, Syria also has a long and rich history and tradition and Lupine hopes to take visitors beyond the headlines to discover the many things the country has to offer and which many travellers experienced before the conflict broke out.
Lupine is no stranger to the Middle East having previously organised tours of Iran.
Dylan said: “Syria is a country steeped in history and culture which had a large amount of tourist visitors prior to the civil war.
“That almost seems impossible to grasp now as the only images of the country we’ve had for the past few years have been of death and destruction.
“I first travelled to Syria in 2017 when things had taken a turn once the government forces had started to cause ISIS and the rebel forces to retreat.
“I wanted to set up a base there ready for once the country became safe enough to travel to again. At that time it wasn’t ready to start accepting tourists.
“Although central Damascus was safe, the front line was not far away and during the night I could hear gun battles taking places and tracer fire in the sky.
“Now though the vast majority of the country is secure and we’re now looking forward to starting tours to the safe regions next year.
“Hopefully ours tours can kickstart an influx of future tourist money into the local economy to give help to the people there who desperately need it having had no jobs or income over the past seven years.”
Dylan says the 2020 tours to Syria have already inspired a huge amount of interest with travellers wanting to visit.
Currently five trips are scheduled for next year with visitors getting full-day tours of the capital Damascus and Aleppo, which has been particularly ravaged by the war.
After that the tourists will head to the castle at Krak de Chevaliers, which dates from the Crusades, and see the city of Homs which also suffered devastating destruction in recent years.
There will also be the chance to visit the Roman city of Palmyra and the beach resort of Latakia.
To find out more, visit www.lupinetravel.co.uk