Iran, UNWTO discuss rural tourism targets

December 1, 2021 - 17:29

TEHRAN – On Tuesday, Iran’s deputy tourism minister Ali-Asghar Shalbafian and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili discussed ways to develop bilateral ties and to gain previously-defined rural tourism targets.

Shalbafian briefed national strategies and goals that the Islamic Republic pursues to develop its tourism industry during a meeting held on the sidelines of the  24th General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid, Spain.

Furthermore, they re-examined an international conference on rural tourism, which Iran plans to hold in its lesser-known provinces of Kermanshah and Kordestan.

Shalbafian and Pololikashvili also exchanged views on the prospects of sustainable tourism both in the COVID and post-COVID eras.

The UNWTO sees rural tourism as a type of activity in which the visitor’s experience is related to a wide range of products generally linked to nature-based activities, agriculture, rural lifestyle, culture, angling, and sightseeing. Such tourism also possesses characteristics such as low population density, a landscape dominated by agriculture and forestry, as well as traditional social structure and lifestyle.

The UN body aims to turn the spotlight on the “uniqueness” of each village to make tourism a means for further development in rural areas. “We want to recognize the uniqueness of each village and showcase the best initiatives to make tourism a means for a better future in rural areas. As we restart tourism, we work to ensure that we leave no one - and no village- behind,” according to Pololikashvili.

Having numerous pristine yet diverse natural gifts, Iran has many to offer to nature lovers. For instance, the villages of Kharanaq, Barandaq, and Lark have been nominated for the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ label, which the UNWTO is projected to grant to a selection of rural destinations across the globe.

The Islamic Republic seeks 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.


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