We must properly introduce Iran to World Cup spectators: tourism minister

February 26, 2022 - 18:39

TEHRAN – Iran must take an immense opportunity to be provided by the upcoming Qatar World Cup to properly introduce the county to the international spectators of the major event, the tourism minister has said.

“A significant number of travelers, mostly young people, would arrive in Qatar to attend the World Cup… It provides an exceptional opportunity for us to properly introduce tourist attractions of the country,” Ezzatollah Zarghami said on Thursday.

“Over the past months, we have prepared some plans to arrack attendees to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship.”

“Most importantly, our [southern] islands and free zones [in the Persian Gulf] are prepared to host foreign spectators since they are appealing and wallet-friendly destinations,” Zarghami said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the minister referred to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s recent visit to Doha, saying “Following president’s visit to Qatar, we decided to send a full delegation to the neighboring country in order to activate all capacities proposed by the Qatari government.”

Moreover, we have set an agenda for the operation of extra flights between the two countries, he added.

The minister said many people are interested to visit Iran for its historical attractions and ecotourism to name a few.

Iran football team became the 14th team to book their place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Moreover, the ‘Persian Leopards’ became the first Asian team to book their place in the major competition.

Furthermore, Zarghami’s deputy for tourism, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, has said the landmark event gives Iran a chance to dwindle the so-called anti-Iranian sentiments known as Iranophobia. “Qatar’s World Cup offers a unique opportunity to introduce destinations near the host country, and we should take advantage of this opportunity to confront Iranophobia.”

To make good use of this occasion, it is necessary to develop consensus among the relevant agencies, and if this does not occur, it will be detrimental to the country, Shalbafian explained.

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.”

Moreover, the head of the Association of Kish Hoteliers has announced the island is ready to host Qatar World Cup spectators as well as participating teams. “The proximity of Kish to Qatar and the lower cost of staying on this island make it possible for spectators and teams to stay here during the World Cup.”

Experts believe Iran would achieve a tourism rebound after the coronavirus disease is contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

However, even before the coronavirus 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.

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.

AFM

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