France’s tourism agency has claimed a 7% increase in French tourism to Syria. 

The increase in tourist arrivals to Syria since January is mainly due to a large number of visitors arriving from France’s tourist destinations in Jordan and the Gulf.

The Paris-based agency, the Fondation des Tourismeurs des Arabes (FTAA), said on its website that in February the number had been nearly 7 million visitors. 

“This is a record increase and a sign of the growing popularity of Syria as a destination,” the agency added. 

FTAA also reported that France had welcomed 5.8 million French nationals last year, a 15% increase on the previous year. 

Its chief executive, Louis Delattre, added that the influx of French citizens has helped boost tourism in Syria and has helped France meet its own financial obligations.

“The new arrivals have contributed to an increase in the number and value of French holidays in Syria,” Delattres told the BBC. 

He added that he expected the number to continue to grow, with French nationals spending more time in Syria than ever before. 

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, meanwhile, said that France would remain neutral in Syria’s civil war, which has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven nearly 10 million people from their homes.

“I think it’s very important that the French people are aware that, if we are involved in any way, that we will not stand in solidarity with anybody,” Cazaneuve said on Sunday.