By Afshin Majlesi

Iran sees tourism ‘pillar of peace and friendship’ in region

February 6, 2017

The Iranian government is determined to promote tourism as the country sees it pillar of peace and friendship in the region, said the director of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization.

“And thanks to the discourse of moderation, the country has an enormous capacity for diplomatic engagements,” CHTHO chief Zahra Ahmadipour said in an address to the opening ceremony of the 10th Tehran International Tourism Exhibit on Monday.

“I’m really happy to say that we inaugurate the tourism exhibit in a situation that the country enjoys [a period of] safety and stability,” she highlighted.

Organized by the CHTHO, the fair is to bring the country under the spotlight in terms of its lavish natural and historical sights.

Ahmadipour reminded the audience of the relation between sustainable tourism industry and peace and friendship in the region, saying that the government is seriously determined to turn the relation into reality.

Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million by 2025.

“The Iranian government is making every effort to use this opportunity to widen its relations with other nations and to boost Iran’s national and international power as well.”

For his part, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi-Amiri said he believed that oil revenues can no longer help the country realize its principal objectives of sustainable development.

“The distinguished guests here have two different images from Iran. One is that Iran is the country of oil and the other is that Iran is the country of culture and civilization,” Salehi-Amiri said.

“That is exactly why we believe that we can replace the income from oil with the one derived from tourism, handicrafts, and cultural heritage.”

The government regards tourism as a source for generating wealth, and is seeking to make the best use of positive atmosphere created in the wake of the landmark nuclear deal clinched by Iran and world powers in July 2015.

He also touched on the issue of ample destinations that exist in Iran, describing it as the country of mysteries and timeless charms from the east to the west, and from the south to the north.

“Whenever we conduct mining operations or excavations we [mainly] encounter new examples of this vast cultural heritage.” 

Salehi-Amiri called Iran the most stable and secure country in the Middle East, saying “this land is very secure to all people who are willing to pay a visit.”

“We really think that tourism is the best means for boosting cultural relations, the cultural diplomacy that establishes links between the countries.” 

“The climatic diversity that we have in Iran is so unique that at this moment I am delivering speech there are spots in Iran that experiencing temperatures as diverse as minus 20 and 20 degrees Celsius,” he said.

Commenting about the culture of hospitality, friendship and kindness, the culture minister said: “From the ancient times the hospitality of this country has been famous throughout the world.”

Iran expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots, including 21 ones that have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The 10th Tehran International Tourism Exhibit, adopting the motto of “See Iran Differently”, runs through Feb. 9 at the Tehran International Permanent Fairground.

With Iran steadily becoming a hot tourist destination, several international hotel companies are looking to establish footholds in the country, as the government has pledged support for the flourishing sector to cope with the tourist influx.

More than 16 million foreign tourists visited the country over the past three and a half years, based on figures compiled by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization.

Photo: CHTHO Director Zahra Ahmadipour (3rd R) and Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi-Amiri (3rd L) are about to cut the ribbon on the 10th Tehran International Tourism Exhibit on February 6, 2017. Other national and international officials are seen in the picture as well. 

AFM/MG

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