The Syrian Ministry of Information has released a video portraying the war-torn country as a haven of gold-sanded beaches and blue seas in a bid to revive its tourism industry.

With the tag line Syria Always Beautiful, the video contains overhead footage of the Golden Sands Beach in the government-controlled coastal city of Tartus, where people ride jet skis and relax on the sands.

However, with the country in the throes of a brutal five-year civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions to flee their homes, the film attracted astonishment and criticism online.

Murhaph Kanaan, commenting under the video on Facebook, questioned whether those who produced it were "disconnected from reality".

Resorts on Syria's Mediterranean coast, such as Tartus, have continued to attract tourists, mostly from other parts of the country, the Telegraph reported in 2015.

The beach is located a few miles down the coast from a major Russian naval base, while fierce fighting between government forces and rebel groups continues to rage in neighbouring Latakia province.

In a separate statement, the ministry also claimed that the number of people entering the country had increased 30% in July compared to the same period last year. It did not specify if the figure referred to foreign visitors.

In 2010, the year before conflict in Syria erupted, tourism minister, Saadullah Agha al Qalaa, said that tourism increased 40% on the previous year, with 8.5 million foreigners visiting the country. The figure has dropped by approximately 98%, with most foreign visitors now believed to be Iranians performing pilgrimages to religious sites and western governments warning citizens against all visits to the country.

All six of Syria's Unesco World Heritage sites have been damaged in the conflict, including the ancient city of Palmyra, parts of which were blown up by militants from the Islamic State group.