American travel-food vlogger takes social media by storm in Iran

December 8, 2019 - 18:59

TEHRAN – Thailand-based American food and travel vlogger Mark Wiens has recently arrived in Tehran, tasting street foods and sending videos to hundreds of thousands of his followers on the social media.

On a Saturday Instagram post, Wiens wrote, “Thrilled to say, we made it. Can’t wait to share the amazing food with you!”

“I’m an eater, traveler, author, blogger, video host, a coffee drinker, and some other random things, but mostly I just love to eat delicious food.”

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1986, Mark and his wife Ying are based in Thailand, traveling frequently while making food videos, and blogging.

Influencers can make a boom

In October, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan announced that the ministry supports certain Instagram influencers to travel to the country.

“Instagram influencers’ trips to Iran are backed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts and, in the advertising arena, we do a lot of work to fight Iranophobia and introduce the true face of Iran,” Mounesan said.

“One of the areas [in travel & tourism advertising] is to bring famous figures to Iran, get the country known to them in terms of its rich culture, beautiful natural landscapes and historical monuments…this is part of programs to introduce the country that we will definitely continue.”

Also in October, a group of Instagram and Twitter influencers, who have some 16 million followers in total, from Turkey, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, India and China toured Iran for a couple weeks.

Last month, Trevor James, a Canadian-born food and travel vlogger visited several Iranian cities, saying “Although my trip may only be for acquaintance with Iranian cuisine, it was also fascinating to see Iran’s cultural and religious attractions.”

Nicknamed as “The Food Ranger”, James lamented “Though there are many varied Iranian dishes but restaurants in which to try these food are very limited.”

Iranian cooking can be seen as a metaphor for the country itself: It’s tart, sweet, fragrant and vastly complex. It's one of the world's oldest, yet largely obscure, culinary landscapes, with roots dating back to the Persian Empire. Experts say that food is not merely an organic product with biochemical compositions. However, for members of each community, food is defined as a cultural element.

With over one billion active monthly users, it seems reasonable that Instagram has enough power to set new trends on traveling to a country that boasts hospitable people and some of the world’s oldest cultural monuments, rich natural and rural landscapes as well as 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites to name a few.

Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

AFM/MG

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