Tourism projects worth $334m inaugurated nationwide

February 2, 2021 - 18:40

TEHRAN – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday inaugurated tens of tourism-related projects via a video conference on the occasion of Ten-Day Dawn (Jan. 31- Feb. 10, marking the victory anniversary of the Islamic Revolution).

A total investment value of 14 trillion rials (about $334 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) is channeled through the projects countrywide, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan announced on Monday.  

Tourism-related projects worth 220 trillion rials ($5.2 billion) had previously come on stream since President Rouhani inaugurated his second four-year term in 2017. With these new projects being taken into account, the total investments in this sector are added up to 234 trillion rials ($5.5 billion), which is a new record, the tourism minister explained.  

The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts has played an important role in the country’s currency earnings, as in 2019, the tourism sector’s share of the country’s GDP was $11.8 billion, which is a very significant number, Mounesan said.

Referring to passenger flows, he stated some 8.8 million foreign nationals visited the Islamic Republic during the first ten months of the past Iranian year 1398(March 20, 2019-March 19, 2020) before the coronavirus outbreak puts almost everything on a halt. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the damages it has caused to the country’s tourism, this sector is still running and several projects are underway, the official added. 

Back in August, the minister announced that Iran’s travel sector has suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (some $2.85 billion) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, however, he mentioned that all the tourism businesses across the country will have the capacity to fully resume their activities both in domestic and foreign markets.

“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.

Mounesan went on to say that 2,451 tourism-related projects worth 1,370 trillion rials (around $32 billion) are being implemented across the country that signals a prosperous future for Iran’s tourism sector.

The tourism minister also 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.”

Some experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic may turn tours and travels into luxury items as observing health protocols will raise the cost of travel in the country. 

Mohammad Ali Vaqefi, the vice president of the Iranian Tour Operators Association, warned earlier in June that with the continuation of the coronavirus outbreak, tourists may prefer individual travel rather than tours, adding that they may also choose to go on a trip by their vehicles and stay in tents or nature instead of hotels.

In the global scene, part of the new travel puzzle is the jet-set mindset focusing on tough hygiene care and social distancing as cardinal guidelines for slowing the spread of the virus. So the average expenditure will be raised for a typical traveler particularly inbound passengers so lesser ones can afford to buy privacy and space and safer travel amenities.

Iran expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 24 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, it aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025. 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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