TEHRAN–The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts is looking for ways to help reduce the cost of travel for local vacationers.
“We are looking for free tourism as travel is everyone’s right,” IRNA quoted tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami as saying on Saturday.
“During the past year, we have recognized 20 obstacles in the way of tourism development in the country… By strengthening domestic tourism, we would be able to boost employment and improve the national economy,” Zarghami explained in a televised address.
“Domestic travel accounts for up to 80 percent of the tourism industry in many developed countries…Domestic tourism causes the distribution of wealth, when domestic tourism is strengthened, production, employment and wealth are strengthened.”
As noted by Zarghami, Iran has regained its pre-coronavirus status when it comes to domestic travel. “According to the predictions of the World Tourism Organization, global tourism will return to the normal state (before the coronavirus pandemic) by the end of 2024. However, we returned to normal earlier than the predictions of international organizations,” said the minister.
“Domestic trips have reached about 40 percent growth compared to the period before the coronavirus,” Zarghami said earlier this month.
According to available data, more than 56 million passengers used buses for their land journeys across the country during the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20).
Data compiled by the Road Transport and Maintenance Organization shows that 103,364,000 passengers used public land transport during the past Iranian year 1400. About half of the figure, which numbered 56,453,000 passengers, chose to travel by bus for their domestic journeys, it said. organization.
The Islamic Republic generated $2.5 billion in international tourism revenue over the past 12 months, largely driven by vacationers from neighboring countries. Furthermore, travel and tourism accounted for 3.1 percent of GDP in 2020, while the number reached 4.1 percent in 2021.
In addition, Iran recorded around three million foreign tourist arrivals during this period. Last September, the country began preliminary steps for a comeback, resuming the issuance of tourist visas after a 20-month hiatus and easing COVID-19 protocols for fully vaccinated passengers.
In addition, the ministry seeks to develop tourism links with neighboring countries. “Our priority is to strengthen relations with neighboring countries and now we are pursuing the project of free land travel with neighboring countries,” said Zarghami.
Travelers from Iraq and Afghanistan were the main source of tourism for Iran from October 23 to December 22, 2021. Over the past two years, neighboring Iraq has been one of Iran’s most important markets for tourism and pilgrimage. In January, deputy tourism chief Ali-Asghar Shalbafian announced that Iran had renewed agreements to facilitate travel for Iraqi nationals. “For Iraqi tourists visiting Iran, a new system has been implemented to ensure their safety and comfort.”
Before the pandemic, Iran’s tourism had been steadily growing, reaching more than eight million visitors in the Iranian calendar year 1398 (started on March 21, 2019). However, this growth helped make prejudices thick and thin.
Iran’s asset is that the country benefits from a wide variety of travel destinations ranging from seaside and green forests to high mountains and harsh deserts. As a wallet-friendly destination with hospitable people, Iran has long been a desired destination for nature lovers, bird watchers, powder chasers, culture lovers, pilgrims, museum visitors, foodies, adventurers and medical travelers, for to mention a few.
Experts believe that mass vaccinations against COVID-19, back-to-back celebrity tours for foreign tour operators, easing of travel procedures and new strategies, together, suggest that Iran is set to experience a tourism comeback with more support great in its many tourist spots, of which 26 are UNESCO. World Heritage, and above all, its welcoming people.