Iran ‘has earned plaudits’ to ease COVID-19 impact on tourism, UNWTO says

June 23, 2020 - 21:24

TEHRAN – The United Nations World Tourism Organization has praised efforts made by Iran's tourism ministry to manage the travel industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a letter to Iran's tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan that the country's measures have truly earned plaudits to mitigate the impact on tourism.

“A series of measures that the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of Iran has taken, in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of UNWTO, has truly earned plaudits as an effective practice to mitigate the impact on tourism.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Iran’s tourism ministry in cooperation with the health ministry has announced a series of guidelines and instructions to ramp up the safety of travels across the country. In an early stage, its procedures formulated for “emergency or work travels” implemented in hotels, guest houses, eco-lodge unites, tourist destinations, transport facilities, recreational centers, and restaurants as a prerequisite for gradually preparations for starting wider travels amid the outbreak.

“I particularly appreciate your outstanding leadership which is vital in this challenging time,” Pololikashvili wrote to Mounesan on June 16.

“I thank you for your letter received on 13 June with regards to your government’s constructive recovery effort from the unprecedented global health emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Tourism has been among the hardest hit of all the major economic sectors, and its devastating impact has already taken a heavy toll on global economics, people’s livelihoods, and on our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the secretary-general said.

“In this regard, I am pleased to learn from you that UNWTO’s work, led by the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, was beneficial for your administration to reopen tourism in a safe, seamless, and responsible manner.”

A family wear protective face masks and gloves, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as they walk by the iconic Azadi Square, in Tehran. (PHOTO: Reuters)

In May, deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri elaborated on the measures taken to lessen the impact of coronavirus on the tourism sector and future measures to restore the situation, saying: “A smart travel protocol, which is aimed to reassure healthy travels, has been developed to be implemented across the country.”

“Smart travel means traveling along with strict observance of health and wellness protocols… The smart travel protocol states what considerations a hotel, agency, or tour guide should follow. It’s as if accommodation units need to focus more on renting one-bedroom than two-bedroom. Or if the hotel has been closed until now, with what considerations will it start working and under what conditions will it accept passengers. These cases are detailed in the present protocol we should revise its articles using the opinion of the relevant organizations,” the official noted.

Some experts expect Iran to achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

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).


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