People’s health is our first priority: tourism minister

August 25, 2020 - 19:9

TEHRAN – Iranian tourism minister has said that his ministry is in full coordination with the Ministry of Health for strictly implementing health protocols in travel destinations, hospitably centers, and museums, amongst others, underlining that “people’s health is our first priority.”

“Protocols outlined by the [both] Ministry of Health, and National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control are being strictly implemented,” Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Monday.

Speaking in a radio program, he said that travels which are not within the framework of tours are highly probable to spread the coronavirus. This issue has prompted the Ministry of Health to ask people not to travel.

“People's health is first on the list and we will implement what the Ministry of Health decides in full coordination.”

“Corona has caused damage to many countries around the world, and our country’s travel sector has so far suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (some $2.85 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials).”

Answering a controversial question about him previously claiming “traveling has no impact on coronavirus spread”, the minister explained: “I did not say that travel has no effect on the corona outbreak, this part of my speech is badly reflected,… the medical staff in the country is working very hard, God forbid, their efforts should not be ignored.”

“We are in full coordination with the Ministry of Health, and the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control and the point is that we follow strict protocols in the field of tourism.”

Earlier this month, Mounesan proclaimed: “If the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is contained, all the tourism businesses across the country will have the capacity to fully resume their activities both in domestic and foreign markets.”

“Many tourism projects have been completed, or are being implemented, showing that a very good capacity has been created in the field of tourism in the country and [this trend] should not be stopped,” he explained.

According to Mounesan, 2,451 tourism-related projects worth 1,370 trillion rials (around $32 billion) are currently being implemented across the country that “signals a prosperous future for Iran’s tourism sector.”

In August, the tourism minister said the coronavirus pandemic should not bring traveling to a complete standstill. “Corona is a fact, but can the virus stop tourism? Certainly not. For us, the coronavirus is a new experience in dealing with crises that teaches tourism experts around the world how to deal with such a disaster, and thankfully governments are turning this into an opportunity for better planning.”

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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