Qatar World Cup opens up opportunity for Iran tourism: deputy minister 

October 27, 2021 - 19:0

TEHRAN – The Islamic Republic of Iran should benefit from the 2022 World Cup as a considerable opportunity to promote its distinctive travel attractions, the deputy tourism minister has said. 

"With the World Cup being held in a neighboring country, Iran can benefit from this important event, which if carefully planned, can bring significant wins for various sectors, especially the tourism industry in the country," CHTN quoted Ali-Asghar Shalbafian as saying on Wednesday. 

The geographical position of Iran and its unique tourist attractions make it a potential destination for the World Cup spectators, the official added. 

Therefore, proper policy-making and management in collaboration with the private sector can pave the way for the widespread use of this event, he noted. 

Increasing the number of flights between Iran and Qatar during the event, which will be held from November 21 to December 18, 2022, as well as showcasing and introducing distinctive tourist attractions of the country to the spectators at this event are on the agenda of the tourism ministry, he explained. 

Back in September, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami announced the issuance of tourist visas and the flow of foreign tourists to Iran would resume as per President Ebrahim Raisi’s order following 19 months of suspension. 

However, now that the tourist visas are once again being issued to cultivate good grounds of hope for travel insiders.  

Months of steep recession has taken its toll. Many travel insiders, hoteliers, and tour operators have faced big dilemmas such as bankruptcy, unemployment, debts, and the prospects of not being competitive on the international level.

Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has continued to fall in the Islamic Republic, curbing a stubborn fifth wave of the pandemic, which has seen daily mortalities of up to 700 in recent weeks. As of September 22, the figure dropped to below 300 as the government has devoted a great deal of effort to vaccinate citizens against the nasty virus.

Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” for many potential travelers due to Western “media war”. Several estimates have been released so far on the extent of the tourism-related losses incurred by the pandemic. Only months into the outbreak, Zarghami’s predecessor, Ali-Asghar Mounesan, lamented that the number of foreign travelers to Iran was drastically plunged due to the pandemic.

“Tourism of the country was growing before the corona [outbreak], its revenues reached $11.7 billion in 2019, which accounted for 2.8% of GDP, nearing the average share of tourism in the world GDP, which was 3.2 percent,” Mounesan said. He added 8.7 million foreign nationals visited Iran during the [Iranian] year (1398), adding that Iran was ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism based on data compiled by the World Tourism Organization.

Experts 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 Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.


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