Govt. supports corona-affected tourism, handicraft sectors in Khorasan Razavi

October 20, 2020 - 17:20

TEHRAN – The Iranian government has paid 570 billion rials (about $13.5 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) in loans to support people and businesses active in tourism and handicrafts sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Khorasan Razavi province.

The province’s tourism, mainly accommodation centers, has taken 25 trillion rials ($595 million) hit from the coronavirus so far, deputy provincial tourism chief Ahmad Dinari said on Tuesday.

The financial facilities has been granted to 508 operating units, leading to the preservation of 3,800 jobs, while almost 18,000 people in the tourism sector have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the official added.

Back in April, the government announced it will support those which are grappling with fiscal problems by offering loans with a 12-percent interest rate. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts also suggested a rescue package for tourism businesses.

The government has also allocated a 750-trillion-rial (about $18 billion) package to help low-income households and small- and medium-sized enterprises suffered by the coronavirus concerns.

In September, deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri pointed to the 1.3 million tourism workers in the country, who are facing several issues due to the coronavirus crisis and said “This number, in addition to their households, includes a significant population that makes a living through tourism, who are needed to be considered in ministry’s decisions.”

In August, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said that Iran’s tourism has suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (some $2.85 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

He also noted that 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.”

In June, the United Nations World Tourism Organization praised efforts made by Iran’s tourism ministry to manage the travel industry during the coronavirus pandemic. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a letter to Mounesan that the country's measures have truly earned plaudits to mitigate the impact on tourism. “A series of measures that the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of Iran has taken, in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of UNWTO, has truly earned plaudits as an effective practice to mitigate the impact on tourism,” the letter reads.

Optimistic forecasts, however, expect Iran to achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

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).


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