‘Diplomacy Package’ to help Iran recover virus-hit tourism

August 16, 2020 - 18:37

TEHRAN – Iran is formulating a new initiative called “Tourism Diplomacy Package” to help the tourism sector recover from the coronavirus impact through using diplomacy to accelerate development projects and increase incoming tourists.

Being developed in close collaboration with the ministries of tourism, culture, and foreign affairs, the scheme is aimed to buttress the travel industry particularly to amend international arrivals in both COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 eras.

“Laying the necessary preparations for re-entering the global tourism market is of high importance for us both in coronavirus era and post-COVID-19,” ISNA quoted deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri as saying on Saturday.

“In this regard, we have determined the dimensions, content, and geographical scope for each cross-sectoral tourism program in order to build trust and attract [more] international tourists,” the official noted.

Teymouri also briefed new agreements made in a joint meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (which is affiliated with the ministry of culture), as agencies related to tourism abroad, saying that the tourism ministry’s program during the coronavirus crisis focuses on resolving current problems, developing relations, and boosting infrastructure in the international scale.

“To broaden bilateral and multilateral international cooperation, we are have been holding virtual webinars with travel experts of target market countries to amend the current trend of international tourism step by step… on the other hand, gradual preparation for the post-corona period is mandated to (Iran’s) tourism-related agencies abroad.”

“The representatives of these bodies expressed their readiness to take full advantage of the capacities of the affiliated ministries abroad especially in introducing and updating the country's tourism capabilities. An initiative called Tourism Diplomacy Package was also approved during the meeting to clearly define tasks for relevant international tourism institutions.”

“In this package, Iran seeks to introduce its true face at the international level, correcting the tarnished image (often depicted by certain media outlets of the West)… it also seeks to eliminate Iranophobia to strengthen the motivation to travel to Iran and increase the number of incoming tourists, which will be achieved through cross-sectoral cooperation under the provisions of a national strategic plan for tourism development.”

Over the past couple of years, the Islamic Republic has been taking major efforts to guarantee the safety of foreign travelers and reflect a true image of the country and its capacities in the tourism sector.

“Given that the biggest challenge in foreign arrivals is the lack of a true [international] image of Iran and building trust that the country is practicing health protocols to overcome the coronavirus crisis,” Teymouri said in July.

Last November, the official noted “I, as an expert, who has been working in the field of tourism for the past twenty years, believe that the main challenge of our travel industry is that Iran is internationally unknown. Moreover, over the past years, our enemies have orchestrated an anti-Iranian sentiment or Iranophobia project.”

While the U.S. State Department has long issued strong advisories against traveling to Iran and despite tensions between the two countries. However, almost all foreign nationals or tour operators previously been in the country believe that Iran has proven to be a safe and remarkably hospitable place for travelers, including Americans.

Iran has imposed travel restrictions to help curb the coronavirus spread. In this line, incoming and outgoing flights have been suspended, and road travels restricted to a great extent. 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).

AFM/MG

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