Mazandaran overnight stays cut by 58 percent due to virus

March 3, 2021 - 18:17

TEHRAN – Overnight stays in Mazandaran province, one of the most touristic Iranian provinces owing to vibrant lush green landscape and an attractive stretch of coastline, has plunged 58 percent over the past 12 months.

“The official number of tourists entering and having overnight stays in the province has decreased by 58% over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the deputy provincial tourism chief, Mehran Hassani, said on Tuesday.

“A total of 4,650,000 people made overnight stays [at hotels and other authorized accommodation centers across the province] over the past year…. However, the number of overnight stays in Mazandaran reached about 12 million people during the same period a year earlier,” the official explained.

Mazandaran is traditionally a major destination for domestic vacationers during the Persian New year (Noruz) holidays, which will officially begin on March 21.

With less than a month to go till Noruz which has long been associated with millions of domestic travels, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister wants to find a way to partially revive the already-slumped travels in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism Ali-Asghar Mounesan last week said despite all the obstacles and issues and the outbreak of the coronavirus, the country’s tourism sector “is still alive and dynamic”. 

He publicized in November that mass, unplanned travels are not approved. “The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused damage to the tourism industry in Iran and [other parts of] the world in such a way that according to statistics, 50 million people are directly and indirectly exposed to unemployment due to the virus spread in the global scene…. yet, mass or unplanned and irresponsible travels are not approved to take place during the coronavirus era.”

Smart and responsible traveling should replace “do not travel” recommendations, the minister stressed, adding: “In our country, Corona has caused problems in the tourism industry and the worrying point is the continuation of this trend.”

“We are well aware of what the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control proclaims [the health protocols], hence as a proposal, we have formulated some smart, responsible travel packages by the implementation of which we could have secure travels,” the minister said.

He has repeatedly announced that his ministry is in full coordination with the Ministry of Health for strictly implementing health protocols in travel destinations, hospitably centers, and museums, amongst others, underlining that “people’s health is our priority.”

On other hand, international tourist arrivals to Iran plunged 72% during the first eight months of the year when compared to 2019, according to data compiled by the World Tourism Organization. Restrictions on travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to hit global tourism hard, with the latest data from the UNWTO showing a 70% fall in international arrivals for the first eight months of 2020.

Optimistic forecasts, expect the country would achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

On the contrary, some experts believe that the Iranian tourist cities and some others in the world will not return to the way they were before the outbreak of the coronavirus until 2027.

AFM/

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