Impact of handicrafts now visible on Iranian economy, tourism minister says

January 27, 2021 - 18:4

TEHRAN - Iranian tourism minister has hailed the impact of handicrafts businesses on the economy of the country, saying its results are now evident on people's jobs and their livelihoods. 

“Unlike large projects and businesses, whose economic outcomes mostly appear in the long run, the impact of small businesses is now visible [in the field of handicrafts]” Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Monday. 

Paying attention to the small businesses will lead to justice and the fair distribution of wealth, the official added.

However, comparing small businesses with large investments is short-sighted as the small businesses receive the least support, while balancing these two fields seems important as well, he explained. 

While large businesses are mostly financed by the government, small businesses help improve people’s economy therefore the latter needs special attention, the minister said. 

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mounesan said that the small businesses in the field of handicrafts could be created with a small amount of investment, which could be a solution for one of the most important issues in the country, which is unemployment.

To support artisans and crafters as much as possible, commercializing of handicrafts has been started which is expected to have a good effect on the hand-made products’ marketing and sales, he added. 

Earlier this week, the minister said that the sale of handicrafts is partly related to the prosperity of tourism and the presence of foreign tourists in the country. 

He also said that the national budget bill for the next calendar year (starting on March 20) has proposed 70 trillion rials (about $1.7 billion) to support tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

With 14 entries, Iran ranks first globally for the number of cities and villages registered by the World Crafts Council, as China with seven entries, Chile with four, and India with three ones come next.

In January 2020, the cities of Shiraz, Malayer, and Zanjan and the village of Qassemabad were designated by the WCC- Asia Pacific Region, putting Iran’s number of world crafts cities and villages from ten to 14. Shiraz was named a “world city of [diverse] handicrafts”. Malayer was made a global hub for woodcarving and carved-wood furniture. Zanjan gained the title of a “world city of filigree”. And Qassemabad village, which is nationally known for its traditional costumes, was also promoted to a world hub of handicrafts. Chador Shab, a kind of homemade outer-garment for women, was, however, the main subject for the WCC assessment for the village.

Back in May, deputy tourism minister Pouya Mahmoudian said that some 295 fields of handicrafts are currently practiced across Iran with more than two million people engaging, the majority of whom are women. She also noted that handicrafts play an important role in the economy in rural areas.

Iran exported $523 million worth of handicrafts during the past calendar year 1398 (ended March 19). Of the figure, some $273 million worth of handicrafts were exported officially through customs, and about $250 million was earned via suitcase trade (allowed for customs-free and tax-free transfer) through various provinces, according to data provided by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. Ceramics, pottery vessels, handwoven cloths as well as personal ornamentations with precious and semi-precious gemstones are traditionally exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., the UK, and other countries.


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