Living in Iran is a great experience, Swiss envoy says

February 15, 2020 - 17:9

TEHRAN – Swiss ambassador to Iran believes that living in the country is a “great experience”, saying Swiss people mostly think Iranians are so hospitable.

Markus Leitner told CHTN in an interview released on Thursday that “Iranians are so hospitable, this is the very first thing I heard from Swiss tourists who are impressed by these characteristics.”

“I think they (Swiss citizens) know Iran quiet well, they know its history, they know the importance of the regional power that Iran has. We always have good relations with Iran, so from this point of view we can celebrate the 100 years of diplomatic presence in Iran,” the senior diplomat stated.

“If you want to travel to Iran, it’s not the question of sanctions or not. Honestly, people think about their safety and security, these are the issues to them, not the sanctions.”He underlined that people of Switzerland always notice, obviously when they see, they discover more, they are curious and love to travel, adding “Iran offers a lot of different aspects which are interesting for them.”

“They start with the heritage sides and then discover more, so there are more places to be seen and many forms of tourism like nature tourism which are not very well developed and there still are potentials.”

The ambassador made the remarks during a visit to the 13th Tehran International Tourism Exhibition, which was opened to the public concurrent with the 33rd National Handicrafts Exhibition at the Tehran Permanent International Fairground.

Tourists start with cultural and heritage side which are very well-preserved, and more than that is the people that Swiss nationals are mostly impressed contacting with Iranians, Leitner explained.

Answering a question on how tourism could deepen ties between the two nations, the envoy said, “In general I think tourism is a perfect way to make connections between countries, because these are people who travel and gain experience directly about the destination, by doing that, they can see for themselves what they heard from news and also gain new perspective, so it will be very good to expand relations and cooperation for tourism industry.”

He also referred to tourism as a bridge between nations that could go beyond media interests, saying, “Tourism is a good way that people look at themselves. People are not trust media all the times, so tourism is an appropriate way to see for themselves, to check the pictures they’ve seen, the news that they’ve heard. This is a good thing about tourism.”

The envoy also touched upon [U.S.] sanctions [on Iran] and the [negative] political atmosphere, noting that they are not barriers for avid travelers.

“If you want to travel to Iran, it’s not the question of sanctions or not. Honestly, people think about their safety and security, these are the issues to them, not the sanctions.”

Asked about the way he sees the travel fair, the envoy explained:

“Certainly, it’s a proper way to promote your tourism industry to those who want to travel to Iran. It also is useful from two aspects, one is to be seen among the professionals who are here to exchange what is the trends and the future of tourism and the second one is for the travelers who are curious to see what is available for them.”

“I think tourism is such a great industry which involves so many aspects, tourism is much more than selling one product, it’s a whole experience that travelers have from staying in one place, services they received. The impact of tourism on economy is massive, usually more than what statistics show. I think for the economy of Iran such exhibitions like this is very good.”

Talking about his visits to Iranian destinations, Leitner noted, “We have been traveling a lot and it will be continued, we didn’t see many places but we have seen quite a lot, we started with the places that all international tourist visit, like Shiraz, Isfahan, Persepolis. We love to visit different places.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the envoy pointed to Iranian handicrafts, saying, “They are beautiful, when we go back we always take home handicrafts as souvenirs or gifts. My family lives here or come to visit us and we think it’s a great experience to live in Iran.”

The 2019 Travel Risk Map, which shows the risk level around the world, puts Iran among countries with “insignificant risk”, a category where the UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Finland are placed in.

Some eight million foreign nationals have visited Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2019) despite [U.S.] sanctions and a sharp decline in flights by some foreign airlines, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan announced earlier this month. The Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots, including 22 ones that have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country 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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