Some $19m paid to support tourism businesses in Khorasan Razavi province

December 13, 2020 - 22:16

TEHRAN-The Iranian government has so far paid 800 billion rials ($19 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) in loans to the tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the northeastern Khorasan Razavi province, deputy provincial tourism chief has said. 

 The province’s tourism industry, mostly its accommodation centers, have taken 32 trillion rials (about $761 million) hit from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) over previous months, Yusef Bidkhori announced on Sunday. 

However, the government has allocated a total of three trillion rials ($71.4 million) of subsidy facilities to this province, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country that is to be paid step by step, the official added. 

He also noted that there are 2700 active tourism units across the province, while unfortunately, almost 18,000 employees in this sector have lost their jobs over the coronavirus pandemic. 

Before the coronavirus puts everything on lockdown, the provincial capital of Mashhad played host to thousands of travelers and pilgrims who come from various Iranian cities, neighboring countries, and even across the globe to visit the imposing, massive holy shrine complex of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Imam of the Shia Muslims.

Almost 40 million Iranian pilgrims and travelers visited the city during the last Iranian calendar year (ended March 19).

Dozens of five-star hotels and hostels are dotted around the holy shrine. The city has also the highest concentration of water parks in the country, and it also embraces a variety of cultural and historical sites that are generally crowded.

In late October, deputy tourism chief Vali Teymouri said 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 would 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 were facing problems due to the coronavirus crisis.

In October, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar 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 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.

Optimistic forecasts, however, expect Iran to achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus is 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/AFM 

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