Editor’s note: This post is from analyst Lahcen Achy, below left, with the Carnegie Middle East Center. Neither the Los Angeles Times nor Babylon & Beyond endorses the positions of Carnegie analysts, nor does Carnegie endorse the positions of The Times or its blog.
The budget deficit has increased due to expanded social expenditure and shrinking tax revenues. The economic and security situation is expected to deteriorate further as the unrest continues to grow. The international community may resort to additional sanctions affecting the private companies and government institutions that form the backbone of the Syrian economy. This could throw the country into an unprecedented economic and fiscal crisis.
Tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Syria’s GDP and directly contributes more than 10% of total employment, is one of the economic sectors most damaged since the protests began. Over the last three years, Syria has spent huge sums to increase its ability to receive Arab and foreign tourists and improve the quality of services provided to them. Tourist numbers rose from 6 million visitors in 2008 to 8.5 million in 2010, an increase of more than 40%. This activity supplied Syria with about $8 billion of hard currency over the same period.