Iranian craftspeople, businesses incur $452m loss due to coronavirus

August 31, 2020 - 19:45

TEHRAN – Iran’s deputy tourism minister on Thursday said that the handicrafts industry and related businesses across the country have suffered a loss of 19,000 billion rials (some $452 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic has so caused 19,000 billion rials damage in the area of handicrafts production across the country,” Pouya Mahmoudian said.

“The outbreak of coronavirus was one of the events that caused a lot of damage to the art of handicrafts in the country so that since the [Iranian] month of Esfand, last year, all handicraft markets have been closed and no exhibitions have been held in this area.”

“Due to the lack of inbound passengers during this time, unfortunately, the amount of suitcase trade (allowed for customs-free and tax-free transfer) diverged to almost zero,” the official said.

According to Mahmoudian, Iran globally ranks first in terms of having the topmost number of world cities [and villages] of handicrafts. “Some 295 fields of handicrafts are currently practiced across Iran with more than two million people engaging, majority of whom are women… Handicrafts also play an important role in the economy in our rural villages.”

The Islamic Republic exported $523 million worth of handicrafts during the past calendar year 1398 (ended March 19), of the figure, some $273 million worth of handicrafts were exported officially through customs, and about $250 million was earned via suitcase trade through various provinces, according to data compiled by the ministry of tourism.

Iran’s handicrafts exports reached $289 million in the year 1397, showing three percent growth year on year, based on data released by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts. Traditional ceramics, pottery vessels, handwoven cloths as well as personal ornamentations with precious and semi-precious gemstones were exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., the UK, and other countries.

The number of foreign travelers to Iran has drastically plunged due to the global coronavirus pandemic as the Islamic Republic registered only 74 visits during the spring season, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said in a televised interview late in August. “Iran’s [inbound] tourism came to almost zero and the country had 74 foreign tourists in the first three months of this [Iranian calendar] year (started on March 20), due to corona outbreak.”

AFM/MG

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