Investment in tourism industry continues despite coronavirus 

November 16, 2020 - 18:51

TEHRAN –Investment in the tourism sector and boosting tourism infrastructure hasn’t stopped despite the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan has said.

Over the past years, a large number of tourism projects have been commenced across the country, some of which have come on stream, CHTN quoted Mounesan as saying on Sunday.

This volume of investment indicates that investors have high hopes for the future of this industry in the post-coronavirus era and for the next years to come, the tourism minister said.

Referring to the eco-lodges inaugurated across the country he noted that increasing the number of units could create job opportunities in rural areas and boost tourist arrivals in these regions.

He also noted that promoting ecotourism can help reverse migration and attract more foreign tourists.

Apart from eco-lodge units, there are also boutique hotels and traditional accommodation centers which could flourish the tourism sector and provide infrastructure in these regions, Mounesan mentioned.

Last week, the tourism ministry announced that 1,370 trillion rials (around $32 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials), has been invested in over 2,400 tourism-related projects across the country.

These projects create job opportunities for 475,000 people during their implementation and for 112,000 people once they come on stream.

Critical situation

In October, Mounesan warned that Iran’s cultural heritage and tourism will be in a critical situation if the crises caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus continue.

In August, Mounesan said that Iran’s tourism has suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (some $2.85 billion) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The tourism industry of the country was growing and progressing well but unfortunately, it has faced the coronavirus outbreak, which brought the industry into a standstill.”

“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.

The 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.”

Packages of support 

The government has 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.

Deputy tourism chief Vali Teymouri said in October that a new support package to pay loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic was approved by Iran’s National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control.

He also announced that depending on the type and activity of the businesses, they could benefit from at least 160 million rials (some $3,800) to nine billion rials (some $214,000) of bank loans with a 12-percent interest rate.

The loans will be allocated to tourist guides, travel agencies, tourism transport companies, tourism educational institutions, eco-lodges and traditional accommodations, hotels, apartment hotels, motels, and guesthouses as well as traditional accommodation centers, tourism complexes, and recreational centers, the official explained.

In September, Teymouri said that around 1.3 million tourism workers in the country are facing problems due to the coronavirus crisis.

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).

ABU/MG

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