Noruz travels slump by 96 percent due to virus

April 5, 2021 - 18:18

TEHRAN – The number of domestic travels fell by 96 percent during the two-week New Year (Noruz) holidays (March 20-April 2) compared to two years earlier, Iran’s deputy tourism minister has announced.

According to the latest data Iranians made some 2.5 million overnight stays across the country during the Noruz holidays, while the number added up to over 74 million in the same period in 1398 (March 21-April 2, 2019), which shows a drastic fall, Vali Teymouri explained on Monday. 

It seems many people have postponed, rescheduled, or even delayed their travel plans to help limit the spread of the coronavirus around the country, the official added. 

Elsewhere in his remarks, the official noted that the average occupancy rate of the residential centers reached around 37 percent during the mentioned period. 

Some 23 million visits to the historical and natural sites were registered countrywide as well, he noted. 

Coronavirus causes damages to Iran’s tourism

Back in January Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan announced that Iran’s tourism industry has suffered a loss of over 140 trillion rials (about $3.33 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Although the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the whole world to a standstill, the tourism industry has been the worst affected of all economic sectors, he explained. 

However, efforts are being made by the government to help the tourism sector flourish again with continuous support and injecting supportive packages, he added. 

The government has 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 noted. 

He also said that the national budget bill for the 1400 Persian calendar year has proposed 70 trillion rials (about $1.7 billion) to support tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

New Year travels amid coronavirus outbreak

Before the national holiday,  President Hassan Rouhani declared new travel bans for cities situated in the “red” and “orange” zones to combat the new COVID-19 variant. 

Rouhani called on people to avoid traveling during the Iranian New Year holidays to help contain the spread of coronavirus. He said it would be forbidden to make trips to cities marked as “red” and “orange” in terms of the prevalence of COVID-19.

“We request people to avoid traveling during Noruz holidays for the sake of their own health… It will be forbidden to travel to red and orange towns and cities,” he said. “No one should make any plans to travel to these cities,” he stressed.

Late in February, the tourism minister said despite all the obstacles and issues and the outbreak of the coronavirus, the country’s tourism sector is still alive and dynamic. 

Noruz ceremonies and trips, if practiced under health protocols, could be beneficial for the revival of the tourism industry and handicrafts, which have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in many provinces, the minister explained.

Iranians traditionally make hundreds of thousands of domestic trips during the New Year holidays, when most businesses and workplaces are closed, as are schools.

ABU/AFM

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