COVID-19 causes $7.6b damage to Iran tourism

July 27, 2021 - 21:20

TEHRAN – Iran’s tourism industry has suffered a loss of some 320 trillion rials ($7.6 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, ISNA reported on Tuesday. 

The pandemic has also ruined more than 44,000 jobs in the once budding travel sector of the country, the report added. 

As a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran and the subsequent unemployment and financial losses, accommodation centers suffered the most. These statistics cover the period between February 2020 and the spring of 2021.

The accommodation centers have taken some 280 trillion rials ($6.6 billion) hit from the virus, while over 21,000 workers in these centers have lost their jobs over the mentioned time. 

Tourism agencies have been the second most affected group in the tourism industry, with over 10 trillion rials ($238 million) of damage and more than 6,000 unemployed people since the outbreak.

In terms of employment and financial losses, tourism complexes, eco-lodges, and tour guides are also among the most affected groups in the tourism industry.

Government care and support packages

Last October, the deputy tourism chief, Vali Teymouri, announced that a new support package was approved to pay loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Depending on the type and activity of the businesses, they could benefit from at least 160 million rials ($3,800 at the official rate of 42,000 rials) to nine billion rials ($214,000) of bank loans with a 12-percent interest rate, he said.

The loans would 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 in September 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.”

Back in August, Teymouri announced that the tourism ministry had 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.

Tourism industry in a critical situation

Tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan in October warned that Iran’s cultural heritage and tourism would be in a critical situation if the crises caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus continue.

Last August, the tourism minister said that 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.”

Optimistic forecasts, however, expect Iran to 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.

ABU/AFM


 

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