Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, active groups, who oppose the violence in Syria, started to organise solidarity visits to the country. There are many reasons for organising such visits but the number one reasons was to send a message of solidarity to Syrians and their legitimate government.
These tours also enable activists, media representatives and intellectuals to find out what is really happening in Syria first hand and not through the mainstream media fabrications.
I had the honour to participate in one of these visits in late 2013. It was a great experience that gave me a lot of ideas and information about the situation and the needs of the Syrians who chose to stay in the country.
Up until now mostly the same groups and same people visit Syria. This is mainly due to connections to that country. We wanted to do more.
We wanted our tours to be “Responsible Tourism”. This is when we decided to start our International Tours of Peace to Syria where:
• Anyone can participate.
• Each participant will finance his/her stay in Syria. This will generate greater economic benefits for the local people.
• The tour will provide more enjoyable experiences for the participants through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
• Visits will become more frequent allowing more people from diverse background to participate. This will have greater impact and generate better media coverage.
In our first International Peace Tour to Syria all participants (except one) were first time travellers to Syria.
Every participant paid their own way and enjoyed the Syrian hospitality. So much that a few have already booked for the next tour and others have expressed their desire to go back again as soon as their finances will allow them.
Our tour got good coverage on Facebook and mainstream media in different countries including Syria, Norway and Australia.
The first tour has allowed us to come up with more ideas, including our project of sending volunteers to Syria. We will announce the details soon.
The management for this project is very flexible always consulting with others on almost every aspect of the organisation. Openness and transparency are the keys to achieve our goals. It is for this reason that all the participants were very happy with our tour, even if it was our “test run” tour.
The participants had minimal interference by Syrian authorities while exploring the reality of the situation. Participants moved freely among the market stalls, talked freely with ordinary Syrians and freely took photos/videos everywhere they went. We changed our itinerary several times and were able to accommodate the wishes of the participants.
We expect the 2nd tour to be even better!
We promise many unbelievable surprises. What surprises? Come and find out!
www.socialjustice.net.au/syria-tours or firstname.lastname@example.org