Responsible tourism a workable solution for coronavirus era: minister

September 2, 2020 - 20:25

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism minister has said that responsible tourism is a workable solution for holidaymakers to get assured of safe traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“One of the topics to consider during the corona outbreak is planning for smart travel,” Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Tuesday, addressing a meeting on the pandemic and its impact on the tourism industry.

“Definitely, people’s health is our top priority and we are in full coordination with the Ministry of Health, which is now at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus and we should be treated in such a way that the disease does not spread [more].”

“Therefore, one of the solutions that can help us in the time of coronavirus is adopting smart travels or responsible travels,” the minister explained.

“The tourism ministry has no authority over [people’s plans for] travels and we cannot tell people to travel or not. Many people travel on their own without using the capacity of tours, which can have its own impacts the virus spread but if trips are carried our through tours and in official accommodation centers that follow all health protocols, they would definitely be safer with lower risks.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mounesan backed travel centers which are under the supervision of his ministry noting, “Tourism centers and facilities under the supervision of this ministry fully comply with health protocols. What worries the Ministry of Health is unplanned trips that do not follow health protocols.”

Talking about ups and downs in the realm of foreign arrivals, he said, “The process of attracting foreign tourists and visa waiver programs with China and Oman was a positive trend and a good experience.”

“Presently, some countries have started attracting foreign tourists and [letting] foreign trips being made. We can also start attracting foreign tourists again by considering the instructions from the Ministry of Health and observing the health procedures.”

Last 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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