We are formulating responsible, smart tourism for coronavirus-era, deputy minister says

October 2, 2020 - 19:16

TEHRAN – Regulations and rules for launching responsible and “smart” package tours are being formulated by senior experts of the tourism ministry in close cooperation with counterparts of the health ministry in a bid to somehow restart the sector which has come to a standstill since the coronavirus outbreak, deputy tourism minister has said.

“Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which has dramatically plunged travels in the country, we are currently planning to save the tourism industry from [the immense] damage caused by the outbreak,” Vali Teymouri said on Thursday.

The official made the remarks on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony for a new hotel in Isfahan, central Iran, CHTN reported.

“Since the outbreak of this disease in [the month of] Esfand (March 2020), the country’s tourism insiders in various fields, including accommodation, sightseeing, … and recreation have suffered a lot due to a significant reduction in travel demand in the country…,”

“So the tourism ministry, in addition to its actions to compensate some damage, is planning to launch infrastructure projects in order to support the tourism industry both in coronavirus and post-coronavirus times,” the official explained.

"The ‘smart’ travel plan is one of the newest approaches of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts aimed to cement tourism-related people. Accordingly, the plan, in order to rebound domestic travels during the outbreak, defines protocols and regulations from the beginning to the end of journeys.”

“That includes the implementation of smart tourism tours along with the implementation of all health instructions in public transportation units, accommodation units, restaurants, reception centers as well as historical, recreational, and tourism sites,” Teymouri explained.

As soon as the plan is drafted, it would shortly be submitted to both the health ministry, and the national headquarters for coronavirus control in order to obtain their approvals, before instructions are declared for being implemented, he noted. 

Tourism minister Ali Asghar Munesan last month said that if coronavirus-related restrictions persist, the tourism industry of the country would suffer irreparable losses and many tourism insiders would be bankrupt. It’s time to replace “smart and responsible traveling” with “do not travel” recommendations, the minister said.

Mounesan also announced that he would soon meet with Health Minister, Saeed Namaki, to find a way for lifting travel bans. “The outbreak of the coronavirus has severely damaged an already fledgling industry,” he added.

Mounesan has repeatedly announced 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.”

For the time being, lockdown measures have been lifted in Iran and many other places across the globe, and the tourism sector is being gradually opening up but under mandatory strict guidelines for wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, thermal scanning, and sanitization as well as arrangements for testing. The last few months witnessed changes in demand for immediate travel largely due to individuals traveling for essential purposes or to their hometowns. Now that we are in the unlock phase, we are seeing destinations such as the southern Caspian Sea areas being the top picks for tourists.

The ‘new normal’ entails strict sanitization and hygiene processes at all travel touchpoints. From the hospitality industry to transport services, there are guidelines laid down by different stakeholders to provide customers a safe environment and further boost their confidence to travel. Each destination is developing to be more digitalized to minimize human contact, and information is being conveyed through apps and reliable sources using technology letting consumers are well-informed regarding protocols for each destination.

Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

AFM/MG

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