Iran’s tourism achieves growth despite sanctions: minister

October 6, 2020 - 0:1

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism sector achieved a growth [of almost ten percent year on year] in the previous Iranian calendar year 1398 (March 2019-March 2020) despite the adverse effects of the U.S. sanctions, Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Saturday.

“I am glad to inform you that the tourism sector of the country tried to minimize the effects of the sanctions. Despite the fact that we faced the coronavirus crisis in the last two months of the past year, [arrivals of] some 8,800,000 tourists were registered…,” he said in an interview with the Mehr news agency.

“Last year, in addition to the sanctions, many other events happened in the country, including floods at the beginning of the year, the martyrdom of Lt. Gen. Soleimani and the tragic accident of the Ukrainian plane, each of which could have dealt a fatal blow to the tourism industry. But fortunately, as statistics show, we had a growth in this sector last year despite all the events.”

Mounesan also attached great importance to the country’s initiative of diversifying tourism services, saying: “Therefore, tourism is one of the important economic sectors. One of the important things we did in this area was to diversify tourism services. Previously, most of our foreign tourists were interested in cultural and historical fields. Now, due to the efforts made, the health tourism, ecotourism, and nature tourism sectors have greatly improved. Recently, sectors such as agricultural tourism and mining tourism have been added to this area.”

In 2019, the tourism sector’s share of the country's GDP was $11.8 billion. Unfortunately, one of the things that have recently fluctuated the foreign exchange market is the loss of foreign tourists in the last nine months due to the coronavirus, Mounesan added.

"Therefore, the tourism sector has been able to play its role well due to the existing capacities in the country, including Iranian customs, climatic diversity, and precious cultural heritage," he said.

In August, the minister said 8.7 million foreign nationals visited the Islamic Republic during the past [Iranian] year, adding that Iran was ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism based on data compiled by the World Tourism Organization.

“On the onset of coronavirus, tourism faced a sharp decline in the world including our country. So that in the first three months of the current [Iranian] year the number of foreign tourists dropped to 74 --- it was reached almost zero,” he said.

According to official data announced by the tourism ministry, the number of international tourists visiting Iran surged 52.5 percent in the Iranian calendar year 1397 from a year earlier, and it fetched the country some $11.8 billion in tourism revenues.

AFM/MG

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