By Afshin Majlesi

Austria shares know-how to boost sustainable tourism in Iran: envoy

September 25, 2019

TEHRAN – Vienna’s ambassador to Tehran, Stefan Scholz, said on Wednesday that Austria has launched a new partnership with Iran to promote an inclusive growth of tourism and economy.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, the envoy also attached great importance to make collective efforts to maintain Iran’s landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Austria is small [country] but strategic contribution for maintaining and preserving the JCPOA is to create a network of sector partnerships. Eco-tourism will be the latest, new sector partnership,” Scholz said as he visited the Sustainable Eco-tourism Symposium in Tehran.

The two-day event is hosted by University of Science and Culture in close collaboration with the Austrian Embassy, the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), Austrian Cultural Forum, and Iran’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.

“It [the partnership] is aimed at bringing and promoting inclusive growth in Iran in assisting the endeavors by the government for a transformation of the economy towards a vibrant private sector-based, SME-driven economy, and to create jobs,” the ambassador stated.

“It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs for the youth. Some 900,000 young people are waiting for jobs in the labor market every year.”

Talking about commonalities and the history of relations between the two nations, Scholz said “Austria and Iran have a long history in common. It’s an incredible special profile that distinguishes us from many other countries. We have 700 years of documented contacts, 500 years of partnership and about 60 years of full diplomatic relations.”

“Austria and Iran have a long history in common. It’s an incredible special profile that distinguishes us from many other countries. We have 700 years of documented contacts, 500 years of partnership and about 60 years of full diplomatic relations.”

And this is a wonderful narrative on which we are now building this network of sector partnership. Austria just give you (Iran) an idea. Austria last year had 1.5 million stayovers and 45 million arrivals. It’s an incredible number that just shows our great potential for Iran.”

He went on to say: “this is the know-how that we want to share with the partner country Iran to really expedite the transformation of economy, creating jobs in this all sustainable manner.”

The Tehran Times also had an interview with deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri during the event.

“We are nearing the World Tourism Day, which is September 27th, and our programs to mark this event have commenced [in Iran] in universities, the private-owned and government-run bodies that will be continuing up to the end of the next week (October 4),” Teymouri said.

“The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has selected the theme of “Tourism and Jobs — A Better Future For All”, that accentuates education, skills, and employment,” he stated.

“This symposium and exhibition fits such a framework. It is being hosted in a university place revolving around arenas of sustainable development of tourism, eco-tourism.”

“We have in fact a memorandum of understanding with the European country, which three [Iranian] workgroups formed by academic, private, and government departments have so far held meetings with Austrian side,” Teymouri said.

Talking about the outcomes of the event, the official said “Outputs of the symposium will be collected in order to exchange experiences that definitely will help Iran witness more sustainable tourism industry.”

“The event, both in regional and international scales, helps us to use other nations’ experiences to unlock more potential of eco-tourism in Iran particularly in rural areas without inflicting damages to the environment and natural resources… Such an approach enables us to make the best use of the country’s wealth and yet preserve them for the subsequent generations,” the deputy minister explained.

Iranian and Austrian officials also on Wednesday cut the ribbon on an international handicrafts and culinary exhibition, which opened to the public at the premises of the university.

“Iran and Austria can expand cooperation on exchanging tourists and professors, as the sector cannot be put under [U.S.] sanctions,” Alexander Rieger, deputy head of mission of the Austrian Embassy, said earlier this week.

Rieger presides over the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and he is also head of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tehran.

Talking on similarities that Iran and Austria have in tourism, Rieger said that the two nations can have a good cooperation in this sector without being worried about the U.S. sanctions. He added that a group of officials from Austria and five EU countries have visited some of Iran’s ecotourism sites to become familiar with the Iranian culture in various parts of the country.

On July 31, 2018, and on the occasion of the Damavand Anniversary Project 2018, some 100 Austrian and Iranian mountaineers together with a group of European ambassadors jointly ascended the Mount Damavand. The two-day event marked the 175th anniversary of the first Austrian ascent of Mount Damavand by the botanist and scholar Theodor Kotschy in 1843, Mehr reported.

The event sent a strong signal that Europe and Iran are making good on their promises to engage in an ever-increasing number of sectors and areas, Scholz said at the time.

“Iran is more than a country, it’s a civilization in its own right and one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world,” the Austrian ambassador had said.

“Austria stands ready to partner in further developing Iran’s great tourism potentials in a sustainable way, protecting natural resources and supporting the life and culture of mountain populations. This new sector partnership is part of Austria’s bilateral contribution to preserving and maintaining the JCPOA by bringing concrete and measurable economic benefits to the Iranian people,” he added.

Last November, the Trump administration reinstated sanctions on Iran, mainly the ones that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, in order to batter Iran’s economy, however, according to official data, they have so far failed to lessen foreign arrivals to the Islamic Republic.

AFM/MG

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