Tourism can guarantee peace and security between nations, expert says

June 22, 2022 - 17:6

TEHRAN – It is possible to guarantee peace and security between nations by promoting tourism, a tourism expert has said.

“Tourism has shown to be an industry that promotes peace and security as well as international friendship,” IRNA quoted Hormatollah Rafiei as saying on Wednesday.

It is imperative that tourism diplomacy, along with cultural, public, and economic diplomacy, be a focal point of negotiations and interactions between a country’s representatives and diplomats in an international arena, due to the interconnectedness of different ethnicities and nationalities, he explained.

During three difficult years with the coronavirus outbreak, the tourism industry not only did not expand the pandemic but with maximum cooperation and full compliance with global health protocols, was an important player in containing and ending this crisis, he added.

Although Iran’s tourism industry has suffered a loss of some 400 trillion rials ($1.4 billion), the loss of life in tourism facilities was almost zero, he noted.

Having moved into the post-corona era, tourism can now be a center of economic recovery by utilizing local and international capacities, such as the attraction of tourists from neighboring countries and common areas in the ECO and Eurasia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the expert said.

Aside from Iran’s historical and civilizational status, its geopolitical and geoeconomic position as an economic, cultural, and historical crossroads provides an exceptional opportunity for tourism development, he noted.

“Developing and strengthening tourism, however, will be achieved when governments place tourism at the center of their economic and cultural diplomacy.”

It is possible for tourism to once again reorganize the world’s collapsed economy if governments seize opportunities for international cooperation, and give tourism a central place in regional diplomacy, he concluded.

Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” to many potential travelers due to the Western “media war”. Several estimates have been released so far on the extent of the tourism-related losses incurred by the pandemic.

According to the data compiled by the tourism ministry, 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. Some 8.7 million foreign nationals visited Iran during the Iranian year (1398) and 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 the coronavirus is 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/MG

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