Want to see what it's like on the front lines of the war in Syria? This might be your chance. A Russian tourism company is planning to offer trips to the war-torn country next year, various Russian media reported. Megapolis Ltd. has registered to use the trademark “Assad Tours,” named after the embattled Syrian dictator, and has begun working out itineraries for the proposed trips.
“You're asking how many crazies will show up? All tourists are crazy — they are paying money for things they can see free on television,” Anatoly Aronov, who was involved in Megapolis' business plan, told the Daily Mail. “We will be 1 kilometer away from the front at the very closest. But not any closer. It's safe. On no occasion will we be giving weapons to tourists.”
— Brandon Sousa (@brandon_sousa) December 17, 2015
The tourism company reportedly has reached out to relevant ministries as well as the Syrian embassy in Moscow in hopes of moving the idea forward. Discussions are believed to be underway with hotels and transportation companies. The tours, which will depart from the Russian capital, are expected to last four or five days and cost $1,500.
However, Megapolis' plans for the tours might not actually be able to be realized. According to the Russian Travel Industry Union, sending tourists into conflict zones is illegal, Albawaba reported. And for now, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency has said the company is not allowed to sell the trips as no official application has yet been filed.
Syria has been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 2011. Some 250,000 people are believed to have been killed, and nearly half the country has been displaced. Russia has backed the heavily criticized Syrian leader, and its military entered the region in late September. Russia's air force has carried out airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group, but many of its operations have been focused against anti-regime rebels, including some supported by Western governments.
Conflict tourism is nothing new. Last year, a Russian tourism company reportedly began offering trips to see the fighting in Ukraine. Tours ran between from $75 to $600, and included flak jackets.
There was no immediate word on what safety precautions Megapolis has explored. The $1,500 price-tag for the Syrian tours was not expected to include life insurance.