Virus causes $5.2 billion damage to Iran’s tourism, minister says

February 23, 2021 - 18:22

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism industry has suffered a loss of some 220 trillion rials (about $5.2 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister said on Tuesday.

 “Iran’s tourism has suffered some 220 trillion rials due to corona pandemic so far…. and we hope that with the production of domestic vaccines, tourism will flourish in 1400 [the new Iranian calendar year which begins on March 21],” Ali-Asghar Mounesan said.  

He made the remarks during the opening ceremony of Tehran’s international tourism and handicrafts fair, which is currently underway at Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds.

“We hope that the widespread vaccine would bring prosperity to all branches of tourism such as agritourism, ecotourism, and nature tourism,” the minister said.

“Over 1.5 million jobs have been lost in the tourism sector of Iran due to the COVID-19 disease…. Many of the tourism-insiders are now unemployed or they are staying at home,” Mounesan announced last December.

The government had previously allocated a total of 500 trillion rials (about $12 billion) to the corona-affected sectors, of which 200 trillion rials ($4.7 billion) will be given to the health ministry and the rest will be spent on other sectors, he explained.

Last month, the minister announced 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.

 If the budget receives parliament’s approval, it will be injected into different sectors of the tourism industry, which has taken a major hit from the coronavirus outbreak over the previous months, he noted.

Despite the toughest economic pressures and sanctions, the government has provided good support to all sectors of tourism, the minister said. However, there is hope that the beginning of mass vaccination against the coronavirus will provide better conditions for tourism and businesses related to this sector, he explained.

Government’s care and support packages

In late October, the deputy tourism minister, Vali Teymouri, announced that a new support package to pay loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic has been approved.

Depending on the type and activity of the businesses, they could benefit from at least 160 million rials ($3,800) to nine billion rials ($214,000) of bank loans with a 12-percent interest rate, he said.

The loans will 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.

Teymouri pointed to the 1.3 million tourism workers in the country, who are facing several issues due to the coronavirus crisis, and said “This number, in addition to their households, includes a significant population that makes a living through tourism, who are needed to be considered in ministry’s decisions.”

Teymouri has said that the tourism ministry has approved a total budget of 4,920 billion rials (over $117 million) to support corona-affected tourism businesses, covering as much as 36,000 people working in the tourism sector.

AFM/

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