Darkush swimming pools: high rents, investors complain construction costs

People standing on the banks of the Orontes River in the Darkush region, northwestern Syria - 25 May 2022 (Enab Baladi)

People standing on the banks of the Orontes River in the Darkush region, northwestern Syria - 25 May 2022 (Enab Baladi)

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Enab Baladi – Darkush

The town of Darkush at the border line between Turkey and the western countryside of Idlib is known for its resorts and tourist parks active during the summer days, with many destinations for tourism, as it is located near the Orontes River.

Darkush is also known for its mountains, rivers, and trees.

The suitable location and climate prompted many landowners and venture capitalists to set up swimming pools in the city due to the financial returns that they achieve.

The pools are basically the only breathing places for the residents of Idlib and its countryside for tourism after the decline of the opposition-controlled areas in northern Syria.

The prices of tourist resorts and swimming pools in the city are high, like other aspects of living, which disturbs the vacationing customers.

High rents

Pool owners ask for large amounts of rent, compared to the per capita income in Idlib governorate, and the majority of transactions in the region’s tourism sector are exclusively in US dollars.

Pool rentals range on holidays between 50 to 150 US dollars as the rent peaks and varies depending on the size of the pool, its location and equipping, and the services provided, according to what Enab Baladi monitored in the town.

The rental period does not exceed 24 hours. The tenant receives the “chalet” with a swimming pool filled with new water, and the water is changed after each tenant leaves, but the high rents have prompted many to refrain from going to these “chalets.”

Youssef al-Khaled, a father, told Enab Baladi: “I wanted to take my children and family on a holiday trip, so we decided to go to Darkush, but I could not rent a swimming pool because of the high price of rent, especially during the holidays.”

Khaled added: “The owners of the swimming pools asked me from 100 to 150 US dollars, depending on the pool, and this is a very large amount for me. The trip needs other necessities, including lunch, fruits, and drinks, so I canceled the trip.”

High construction cost increases prices

Over the previous few years, land prices in places allocated for the construction of pools in Darkush have risen amid the beginning of summertime, with one meter ranging from 20 to 25 US dollars, except for other construction costs.

The swimming pool needs large quantities of building materials, such as cement and iron, to form a strong water pressure-tolerant foundation, as well as a water well in order to fill the basin with clean and fresh water, except for other costly fittings, such as decorations, electricity, and maintenance, and the fuels used by generators to fill the swimming pool.

The cost of constructing an excellent swimming pool with a land price ranges from 40,000 to 100,000 US dollars.

Yasser Khazna, 40, the owner of a tourist facility in Darkush, told Enab Baladi, “If we deal with the issue from a purely commercial aspect, we ask for a high wage for services that require high capital, and these wages vary according to the quality and services.”

The owner of the tourist facility continued: “Darkush welcomes all segments of society, with varying wages for tourist establishments.” He added that there are “chalets” with cheap fees compared to the modest services provided in them.

The Salvation Government is absent

Darkush region witnessed a boom in tourism after the relative calm that the region experienced during the previous four years, especially after the great recession due to the poor security conditions and the intense military operations.

The region is also witnessing a development in the construction of tourist facilities, with all specifications and prices.

Enab Baladi contacted the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), the de facto authority running the area, to ask about its efforts in developing tourist facilities in Darkush, its role in tourism marketing, and meeting the increasing demand for tourism services in terms of allocating a financial budget for them, given that tourism is not just an individual recreational activity in the city, but rather one of the most prominent economies that contribute to the development of living conditions.

The services provided to tourist facilities in the tourism sector are all affiliated to the private sector with individual initiatives and private investments, in conjunction with the almost complete lack of interest in this sector by the Salvation Government in Idlib.

However, as of the date of the present report, these questions had not been met with any answers by the Salvation Government.

Idlib and its countryside contain archaeological and tourist areas that can be used and put forward for investment to improve the region’s economic and living situation.

 

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