Qom ready to host intl. sightseers, pilgrims 

October 29, 2021 - 18:52

TEHRAN – Tourism facilities in the central Qom province are ready to welcome foreign tourists, the provincial tourism chief has announced. 

“As of this month, foreign tourists will be able to visit Qom after 20 months of the coronavirus outbreak and heavy losses to the tourism industry,” Alireza Arjmandi said on Thursday. 

It has been obligatory for each employee of hotels and accommodation to have a coronavirus vaccine card before they can receive foreign tourists, the official added. 

Earlier this month, the official announced that Qom holds the potential to become a medical tourism destination. 

In the post-coronavirus era, foreign tourists will require medical services that are different from the past, and it is necessary to make the needed arrangements to meet these requirements, he noted.
 
Arab states of the Persian Gulf are interested in visiting Iran and in particular, the holy city of Qom, which presents a good opportunity to plan health tourism, the official added.

The second-holiest city of the country after Mashhad, Qom is home to both the magnificent shrine of Hazrat-e Masumeh (SA) and the major religious madrasas (schools). Apart from sightseers and pilgrims who visit Qom to pay homage at the holy shrine, the city is also a top destination for Shiite scholars and students who come from across the world to learn Islamic studies at its madrasas and browse through eminent religious bookshops.

The antiquity of Qom goes back to the Sassanid era (224 CE–651) and several historical mosques, mansions, and natural sceneries have been scattered across the city as well as towns and villages nearby.

Tourist visas

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.

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.

ABU/AFM

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