Minister calls on travel agencies to design affordable packages

September 4, 2021 - 21:59

TEHRAN – Iranian tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami has called on travel agencies and tour operators to design affordable packages aimed to jumpstart domestic tourism when COVID-19 is less of major concern.

“I have two recommendations and requests; one is to offer a variety of tour packages and the other is to design cheap packages [for domestic travels], and of course you have to help in this regard,” the minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts said on Thursday. 

Addressing unions of civil aviation and travel businesses in a video conference, the official noted: “We are planning for various tourism arenas of health, marine, agricultural, historical, adventure, mountain, desert, etc., which should be adopted independently and project-oriented.” 

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarghami called on Iranians not to go sightseeing till the coronavirus is under control. “As the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, I urge people not to travel, I advise people to stay at home.” 

“I hope this pandemic is resolved quickly and a tsunami of tourism is created,” he said. 

Elsewhere in his remarks, the minister noted that to achieve goals, he relies on experienced colloquies, teams of experts, and all travel insiders from both the state and the private sector. 

“My strength is that I benefit from a valuable body that exists in this field (particularly) in the private sector and I move forward on their reliance.” 
“The last point is that traveling is the right of all people, and tourism is not luxury and belongs to everyone,” he said. 

The tourism ministry was previously considering plans to open doors to vaccinated travelers. Back in May, the deputy tourism minister, Vali Teymouri, announced that the Islamic Republic is weighing plans to open its borders to vaccinated tourists. 

“The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts have already started extensive consultations with other government ministries for the reopening of borders to vaccinated travelers,” he said. 

“One of the issues that we are pursuing strongly through various committees is the arrival of international citizens who have been vaccinated so that won’t pose a threat or concern to the Iranian society,” the official said.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Teymouri explained how traveling and hospitality sectors of the country are adopting the virus-related limitations, stressing the need to re-analyze target markets, redefine tourism products and improve the level of e-services. “We need to revise marketing strategies, and to redefine tourism products by paying great attention to nature tours, rural tourism, ecotourism, agricultural tourism as a tool to empower local communities and travel businesses.”

Earlier this year, the Head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association Ebrahim Pourfaraj asked the government to issue tourist visas for the international applicants who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “The Ministry of Health and the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control can at least agree that the international tourists who have received the [second dose of] coronavirus vaccine would be allowed to enter Iran,” Pourfaraj said.

He also lamented that the continuation of such a trend would result in losing international tourist markets more than before. “Or at least they should make it clear so that we can respond appropriately to foreign companies and tourists to not to miss the international tourist markets more than before,” he said.

According to available data compiled by the tourism ministry, the number of foreign visitors to Iran plunged 94% in the first nine months of the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2021) as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on the tourism industry.

“Some 450,000 foreign travelers arrived in Iran for mainly medical or trade purposes during the first nine months of the year… tightened measures to tackle the new coronavirus has reduced international travel to the country by 94 percent,” Teymouri said.

The ancient land embraces hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.


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