Lorestan tourism loses $128 m from coronavirus outbreak

August 10, 2021 - 17:31

TEHRAN - The tourism industry of the western Lorestan province has suffered a loss of some 5.3 trillion rials (about $128 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the provincial tourism chief has announced.

Many measures have been taken in the tourism sector to minimize the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak, including the postponement of the payment of taxes including income tax and VAT in several installments, Seyyed Amin Qasemi said on Tuesday. 

The repayment of bank loans has also been postponed in several installments for units and some other businesses involved in the tourism industry throughout the province, the official added. 

Earlier in March, the deputy provincial tourism chief, Eskandar Fallahvand announced that the Iranian government has paid some 20 billion rials (about $476,000) in loans to the tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the western province.

He also noted that 1,200 people working in the province’s tourism sector have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Back in January, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan said that Iran’s tourism industry has suffered a loss of over 140 trillion rials (about $3.33 billion) 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 noted.

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

Government’s care and support packages

In October 2020, 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 2020 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.”

Last 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

The tourism minister in October 2020 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.

He also noted 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.

The latest available data show eight million tourists visited the Islamic Republic during the first ten months of the Iranian calendar year 1398(started March 21, 2019).

ABU/AFM


 

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