Open-air recreation centers, natural landscapes open under health protocols: tourism minister

May 20, 2020 - 21:45

TEHRAN – Open-air recreation centers and natural landscapes have been reopened in Iran under the condition of observing health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“People can use open-air recreation centers and natural landscapes only if they can make sure health protocols are observed,” Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Tuesday.

“Tenting and camping for those who are intending to stay for night in parks in large groups – which can lead to high-risk gathering of people and increased danger of Covid-19 spread – is still illegal. We recommend staying in formal and legal accommodations that have received the necessary permits from the ministry,” the official added.

The minister also pointed out that the decision could help ease people’s stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We requested the Ministry of Interior, provincial authorities, police, and security guards to collaborate with us and prepare the ground for people to visit natural landscapes and use open-air recreation centers during a time when a lot of mental pressure is imposed on the society as a result of coronavirus pandemic.”

Deputy minister Vali Teymouri told the Tehran Times on Monday that the tourism industry will get back on the right track sooner than expected thanks to measures taken to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

“I believe that tourism industry of the country will get back on the right track far sooner than generally expected thanks to the measures taken to deal with the spread of coronavirus in tourist destinations, hotels, stopovers, and all the centers which are affiliated with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.”

On April 20, Iran lifted intercity travel bans days after President Hassan Rouhani unveiled a “Smart Social Distancing Initiative” as a new phase of measures to prevent the virus spread. Over the past couple of months, many countries, including Iran, imposed travel restrictions to help curb the spread of novel coronavirus. In this line, incoming and outgoing flights have been suspended, and road travels restricted to a great extent.

The latest available data show eight million tourists visited the Islamic Republic during the first ten months of the past Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2019).

Iran expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 24 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, it 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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