Train tours come to halt in Iran over coronavirus fears

July 26, 2020 - 21:25

TEHRAN – Train tours have been stopped in Iran once again over coronavirus fears as health officials have announced a surge in virus infections in some parts of the country.

Specific tourism trains, operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, have been decided to be stopped for at least three weeks, Mehr quoted an IRIR official as saying on Sunday.

Such trains, which offer specific round trips with several stopovers, began operating intercity travels over that past couple of weeks after a three-month gap when the first phase of COVID-19 pandemic started in the country. 

Train tours, however, gradually was embarked at the beginning of Khordad (Mid-May) when coronavirus curbs eased in a bid to restore normal life and reopen an economy facing the threat of recession.

Earlier in April, the Iranian government announced it will bail out those which are grappling with fiscal problems by offering loans with a 12-percent interest rate. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts also suggested a rescue package for tourism businesses.

The government has also allocated a 750-trillion-rial (about $18 billion) package to help low-income households and small- and medium-sized enterprises suffered by the coronavirus concerns.

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.

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.

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).

AFM/MG

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