Coronavirus-crippled tourism industry needs national support to rebound: official

August 11, 2020 - 18:36

TEHRAN – The domestic tourism industry crippled by the coronavirus pandemic needs national support to make a rebound, deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri has said.

Teymouri made the remarks on Monday in a meeting with Mohammadreza Dashti Ardakani, the head of the tourism-and-cultural-heritage parliamentary group, saying “The tourism industry, affected by the coronavirus crisis needs national support to survive.”

“Tourism industry of the country has suffered a [major] decline at the national, regional and global levels, following the unpleasant events and incidents happened in the second half of past [Iranian calendar] year (1398), as the outbreak of coronavirus disease, which led to the cancellation of international tours and travels to our country…”

The deputy tourism minister demanded the urged to gain the support of all trans-sectoral institutions, which in any way are connected with the traveling and hospitality industry.

“To revitalize this sector, there is a need to take various measures, including tax exemptions and [the compensation of] costs of tourism facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which to be realized, requires national-scale support and assistance of all trans-sectoral institutions related to traveling,” Teymouri explained.

Futures, such as an uncertainty situation that is now being felt [among travel-related personnel and businesses], and having a vague general outlook, have greatly despaired tourism and handicrafts people in the country, and it is feared that the process of downsizing and firing employees and experts in this field will further disrupt the existing business environment, he said.

Dashti Ardakani for his part reminded that the tourism industry is of high importance for the country, saying: “Travel industry is a source for foreign currency revenues, therefore, this sector should be considered separated from political issues [that may sometimes be between the parliament and the government], and the main priority of the country should be directed in this direction.”

“In next year’s [national] budget, a segment should be considered for gratuitous assistance to the affected tourism activists, and I will personally follow up on this issue and the suggestions of the deputy tourism minister through the parliamentary tourism group.”

Iran will soon be unveiling sets of all-inclusive health protocols for inbound travelers as it, like many other states across the globe, is still fighting the virus pandemic. In the new health protocol, inbound traveler refers to both foreign tourists entering Iran and Iranians returning from a foreign trip to the country and it is to take effect in all borders and entry terminals, including airports, ports, and land terminals.

Back in July, Iran extended a ban on inbound group tours, while travel agencies were allowed to organize business tours for individuals. The national headquarters for the coronavirus control issued a permit for solo travelers to enter the country following health protocols, but group tours were prohibited.

Mohammad Ali Vaqefi, the vice president of the Iranian Tour Operators Association, warned earlier in June that the coronavirus pandemic may turn tours and travels in Iran into luxury items as observing health protocols will raise the cost of travel in the country.

The Islamic Republic has suffered an average 15.8 percent fall in foreign arrivals during the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 on international tourism. However, 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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