New year travels allowed if COVID protocols observed, Iranian president says

March 7, 2022 - 18:55

TEHRAN – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said the new year (Noruz) travels are allowed on the condition that holidaymakers observe COVID protocols required by the government.

Noruz journeys as well as (public) gatherings and celebrations will be allowed if coronavirus protocols declared by National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control are observed by people, Raisi said, CHTN reported.

Furthermore, the president said the same rule will come to effect for people joining tour packages called “Rahiane Nour” (“The Path of Light”), which explores former combat zones in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

People who received the third dose of a COVID vaccine have been given priority to travel and join [public] gatherings, he added.

“Based on decisions made by the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control, people who have not received the third dose of the vaccine can also go travels, use social services or attend meetings if they present a negative PCR test.”

Noruz ceremonies and trips, if practiced under health protocols, could be beneficial for the revival of the tourism industry and handicrafts, which have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in many provinces, the minister explained.

Iranians traditionally make hundreds of thousands of domestic trips during the New Year holidays, when most businesses and workplaces are closed, as are schools.

Noruz travels slump by 96 percent due to virus

In 2021, the number of domestic travels fell by 96 percent during the two-week New Year (Noruz) holidays (March 20-April 2) compared to two years earlier due to struct virus-related restrictions, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts. “According to the latest data Iranians made some 2.5 million overnight stays across the country during the Noruz holidays, while the number added up to over 74 million in the same period in 1398 (March 21-April 2, 2019), which shows a drastic fall,” former deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri said.

“It seems many people have postponed, rescheduled, or even delayed their travel plans to help limit the spread of the coronavirus around the country,” the official added.

Last year the tourism ministry announced that the 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

Iran tourism loses $233m due to COVID restrictions

Available data suggest the country’s tourism industry has suffered $233m losses due to COVID restrictions over the past two years. “Iranian tourism facilities have incurred a loss of 69 trillion rials ($233 million) due to the outbreak of the coronavirus over the past two years,” an official with the tourism ministry said early in January.

It has been a major shock to the tourism industry when the coronavirus emerged in 2019, Rokna quoted Mohammad-Kazem Kholdi-Nasab as saying on Monday. Citing an example, the official said, nearly all pre-scheduled trips were canceled during the new Iranian year holidays in March 2020 except for those that were necessary.

“Travel is not believed to be the cause of the outbreak, rather it is a lack of adherence to health protocols that have caused the outbreak, but people canceled their trips anyway, causing major damage to the tourist facilities across the country,” he explained.

With only two months until the upcoming new Iranian year holidays, the tourism ministry is preparing safe and smart travel packages for Iranian holidaymakers and travelers, he noted. “Nearly 70 percent of the population has been vaccinated, so these trips may be able to partially compensate for the damage done to tourism facilities over the past two years.”

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 its 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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