‘Tourism brings hope, prosperity and understanding’

September 26, 2017

TEHRAN – Tourism brings hope, prosperity and understanding to so many lives and livelihoods all over the world, says secretary general of the World Tourism Organization.

“Tourism is today the third largest export industry in the world after chemicals and fuels,” Taleb Rifai said on Tuesday in a video message to the opening ceremony of an event held in Tehran to mark World Tourism Day, September 27.

“Last year alone, 1.235 million travelers crossed international borders in one single year. By 2030, this 1.2 billion will become 1.8 billion,” Rifai added.

“The question, as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017, is how we can enable this powerful global transformative force, these 1.8 billion opportunities, to contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development.”

Travel experts, tour guides, officials and diplomats attended the ceremony, explored avenues for expansion of travel and hospitality ties with an eye to capacities and facilities as well as issues and problems the budding industry faces.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization Director Asghar Mounesan reminded attendees of the goals of celebrating Word Tourism Day.  

“The tourism industry, In addition to its economic role, has also great impacts on various countries and nations in social and cultural arenas,” he said.

“Tourism is today regarded as an effective instrument for public diplomacy between countries, and paves the way for cultural exchanges, bringing nations closer together and helping nations to better understand each other.”

Mounesan who also doubles as vice president added “The purpose of commemoration of this day is to introduce the tourism industry to all people. It is [even more] important in our country to change the attitude of the government, authorities and people towards the tourism industry.” 

Last month, in a meaningful comparison as the country seeks to cut reliance on oil incomes, Mounesan said every single foreign tourist visiting Iran spends an average of $1,200, bringing in income as much as exporting 30 barrels of oil,

For the time being, citizens of about 190 countries can obtain visas on arrival at the country’s airports with one-month validation.

In 2016, over 5.5 million foreign travelers from the Middle East, the Americas, Europe and South and East Asia set foot in Iran, fetching close to $8b in revenues.

Filled from corner to corner with ancient bazaars, museums, mosques, monuments, gardens and palaces set inside bustling cities, historical ruins and rich rural landscapes, the country is increasingly filled with camera-wielding Westerners seeking adventure, archeology and art.

Iran has launched extensive plans to bolster its tourism sector. 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 in 2025.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, underscoring its power to help eradicate poverty.

PHOTO: An Iranian troupe performs during a ceremony to mark World Tourism Day at Tehran’s International Conference Center, September 19, 2017.

AFM/MG

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