Iran should sharpen focus on nature tourism, minister says

January 20, 2021 - 17:9

TEHRAN – Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Tuesday that developing nature tourism in the country needs to be considered more seriously. 

As nature tourism is one of the key potentials of the country’s tourism industry, establishing tourist camps and complexes seems necessary and the ministry’s focus should be on nature-related projects, the minister said. 

He also expressed his satisfaction with measures taken to boost rural tourism in collaboration with different related organizations. Referring to the eco-lodge units as a prerequisite for developing nature tourism, he explained that setting up more eco-lodges is on the ministry’s agenda. 

 Iranian officials and policymakers in the realm of travel expect such a branch of tourism development will end and possibly reverse the trend of migration from villages to cities by creating sustainable jobs and prosperity for local communities.

Nature-based tourism is any type of tourism that relies on experiences directly related to natural attractions and includes ecotourism, adventure tourism, extractive tourism, wildlife tourism, and nature retreats. 

Eco and nature-based tourists seek and expect a high level of service and product directly related to natural attractions, and they are willing to pay for it. They deliver more economic benefits than other tourists because they spend more and stay longer. 

Agritourism and nature-tourism enterprises might include outdoor recreation (fishing, hunting, wildlife study, horseback riding), educational experiences (cannery tours, cooking classes, or tea or coffee tasting), entertainment (harvest festivals or barn dances), hospitality services (farm stays, guided tours, or outfitter services), and on-farm direct sales (u-pick operations or roadside stands).

It is a subset of a larger industry called rural tourism that includes resorts, off-site farmers' markets, non-profit agricultural tours, and other leisure and hospitality businesses that attract visitors to the countryside.

Experts say each eco-lodge unit generates jobs for seven to eight people on the average so that the scheme could create 160,000 jobs. The Islamic Republic announced in 2018 that 2,000 eco-lodges would be constructed across the country until 2021. Having a very diverse natural setting, Iran offers varied excursions to nature lovers. Sightseers may live with a nomad or rural family or enjoy an independent stay.

ABU/AFM 

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