Iranian minister hails investment in tourism

November 2, 2021 - 17:52

TEHRAN – Iranian tourism minister on Monday hailed further investment in the realm of the travel industry as the Islamic Republic is preparing to jumpstart tourism following months of recession caused by the pandemic.

Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami stated he welcomes [potential] investors who would invest over one thousand billion tomans (about $283 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) in the tourism sector of the country, IRNA reported.

“I have decided to meet in person with all those who want to invest more than one thousand billion tomans in the field of tourism and do not need government facilities,” Zarghami said on Twitter.

The Islamic Republic has recently opened its doors to fully vaccinated travelers days after the new tourism announced the Iranian “government will soon scrap visa restrictions”.

Zarghami announced on September 19 that the country plans to lift visa restrictions to help the severely hit tourism industry. 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.

Last November, Zarghami’s predecessor, Ali Asghar Mounesan, said:” Investment in the tourism sector and boosting tourism infrastructure hasn’t stopped despite the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country. . . Over the past years, a large number of tourism projects have been commenced across the country.”

“This volume of investment indicates that investors have high hopes for the future of this industry in the post-coronavirus era and for the next years to come,”Mounesan added.

Moreover, the head of the Association of Iranian Hoteliers said last month that 90 percent of Iranian hoteliers and accommodation staff had received the COVID-19 vaccine to date.  “The association has set a deadline, which comes to an end on October 30, for unvaccinated employees of the chain hotels… when the time limit passes unvaccinated employees may lose jobs,” Jamshid Hamzehzadeh

Several estimates have been released so far on the extent of the tourism-related losses incurred by the pandemic. Only months into the outbreak, 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.

Even before the pandemic, Iran’s tourism was already grappling with some challenges, on top of those Western “media propaganda” aimed at scaring potential travelers away from the Islamic Republic. Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” for many potential travelers due to such a “media war”. They, however, consider bright prospects for the tourism sector of the country if it vigorously pursues comprehensive strategies to counter U.S.-led propaganda and strict sanctions, yet does its best to loosen tough travel regulations.

Iran is potentially a booming destination for travelers seeking cultural attractions, breathtaking sceneries, and numerous UNESCO-registered sites. 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.

AFM

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