Sistan-Baluchestan loses $34.2 million in tourism earnings as a result of COVID-19

February 5, 2021 - 18:10

TEHRAN – Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province has lost 1,440  billion rials ($34.2 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) in earnings from tourism as many potential visitors stay away due to the impact of the coronavirus, according to  Alireza Jalalzaei, the provincial tourism chief.

“Sistan-Baluchestan is a four-season travel destination and even though the province holds vast tourism capacities, it has taken some 1,440  billion rials hit from the coronavirus outbreak from mid-Esfand 1398 (early March 2020) to the end of the month Dey (January 19),” the official said on Wednesday.

The official noted that Sistan-Baluchestan has set sights on [a significant] tourism development, and its travel infrastructure has been drastically extended over the past couple of years.

“From the year 1396 (2017) onwards, the number of travel infrastructure in Sistan-Baluchestan has raised from 40 to 200 ones…. Nowadays tourism of this province has come to fame and distinction,” he explained. 

Elsewhere in his remarks, the official pointed to various tourism campaigns being launched over the past couple of years, adding the campaign ‘Let’s see Sistan, let’s hear Baluchestan’ has taken a noticeable impact on the tourism thrive of the province mainly by the means of on-line programs. 

“Despite all the bottlenecks, the province’s tourism has not been forced to shut….”

“For instance, the occupancy rate of hotels in [the city of Chabahar] is [currently] more than 90 percent….. and currently, some 100 to 110 ecolodge unites are active across the province,” the official said.

Last year,  Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said that the development of the travel industry across Sistan-Baluchestan province is among the top priorities for the ministry.

“I am interested in Sistan-Baluchestan, and the development of this province is a priority for this ministry and the government,” the minister stated.

“The majority of my travels during my tenure has been to Sistan-Baluchestan, which I consider it as a safe province with significant values in terms of culture, history, handicrafts, and tourism.”

The collective province -- Sistan in the north and Baluchestan in the south -- accounts for one of the driest regions of Iran with a slight increase in rainfall from east to west, and an obvious rise in humidity in the coastal regions. In ancient times, the region was a crossword of the Indus Valley and the Babylonian civilizations.

The province possesses special significance because of being located in a strategic and transit location, especially Chabahar which is the only ocean port in Iran and the best and easiest access route of the middle Asian countries to free waters.

The vast province is home to several distinctive archaeological sites and natural attractions, including two UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely Shahr-e-Soukhteh (Burnt City) and Lut desert.

AFM/ 

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