Defeating Iranophobia requires budget allocations, deputy minister says

February 4, 2023 - 18:13

TEHRAN – To combat Iranophobia, a proper budget needs to be allocated, the deputy tourism minister has said.

It is necessary to allocate some five trillion rials ($12.5 million) to the tourism ministry in order to boost tourism and eliminate Iranophobia worldwide, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian explained on Friday.

Using the budget, Iran’s tourism capabilities will be introduced in different foreign languages, which will be done through the production and publication of content and the promotion of its attractions, the official added.

Back in December, the official announced that attracting more tourists and developing tourism is the best solution for tackling Iranophobia.

There is no better tool than tourism to deal with Iranphobia, since the presence of tourists, their viewing of attractions, and propaganda about Iran, is the best way to show the real face of the country, he said.

However, there needs to be a more serious effort in introducing and promoting Iranian attractions, he added.

Since the recent unrest, these problems have intensified and many Western countries have advised against traveling to Iran, he mentioned.

In fact, what Western countries are raising regarding Iran is not related to tourism at all, but rather to political issues and relations between countries, as the recommendation not to travel to Iran shows how political issues have entered the field of tourism, he said.

Last August, tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said that Iran has recorded about 2.9 million foreign tourist arrivals over the past 11 months.

The tourism minister said the rate of tourist arrivals, concerning coronavirus restrictions, is ahead of some international estimates.

“Designing an Iranophobia project and presenting a negative image of Iran in some media is one of the obstacles to attracting foreign tourists,” Zarghami said.

“We have many relative advantages and facilities that none of the countries in the region have.”

Long shunned by Western travelers, the Islamic Republic has steadily stepped-up efforts to use tourism, over the past couple of years, to help promote its international image battered by endless opposition mostly from the U.S.

Experts believe 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. They say Iran is still somehow “unknown” to many potential travelers due to such a “media war.”

Before the COVID pandemic, Iran's tourism had constantly been growing, reaching more than eight million visitors in the Iranian calendar year 1398 (started March 21, 2019). That surge, however, helped prejudices to become thick and thin.

However, Iran’s trump card is that the country benefits from a wide variety of travel destinations ranging from seacoasts and lush green woods to towering mountains and harsh deserts. As a wallet-friendly destination with hospitable people, Iran has long been a desired destination for nature lovers, birdwatchers, powder chasers, culture devotees, pilgrims, museum-goers, foodies, adventurers, and medical travelers, to name a few.


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