TEHRAN – The Iranian government has paid 930 billion rials ($22.1 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) in loans to the tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the central province of Isfahan.The tourism industry and tourism-related businesses in the province have suffered a lot of damage since the outbreak of the COVID-19, and part of this damage has been compensated by providing them with loans, CHTN reported on Tuesday.
These loans have mostly been given to accommodation centers, eco-lodge units, traditional restaurants, and recreational centers, the report added.
Earlier in March, a provincial tourism official announced that the tourism industry of Isfahan province has suffered a loss of some 48,000 billion rials (about $1.1 billion) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to available statistics and information, the number of tourists in Isfahan province this year decreased by 90% compared to the past year and the occupancy rate of hotels and accommodation centers reached an average of 10%, the official said.
Isfahan province has some 150 hotels, 444 eco-lodge units, 70 traditional hotels, 150 inns, 230 guest houses, he said.
Soaked in a rich history and culture, Isfahan was once a crossroads of international trade and diplomacy in Iran. Now, it is one of Iran’s top tourist destinations for good reasons. The ancient city is filled with many architectural wonders such as unmatched Islamic buildings, bazaars, museums, Persian gardens, and tree-lined boulevards. It’s a city for walking, getting lost in its mazing bazaars, dozing in beautiful gardens, and meeting people.
The city has long been nicknamed as Nesf-e-Jahan which is translated into “half the world”; meaning seeing it is relevant to see the whole world. In its heyday, it was also one of the largest cities in the region with a population of nearly one million.
Isfahan is renowned not only for the abundance of great historical bridges but also for its ‘life-giving river’, the Zayandeh-Rood, which has long bestowed the city an original beauty and fertility. The cool blue tiles of Isfahan’s Islamic buildings, and the city’s majestic bridges, contrast perfectly with the encircling hot, dry Iranian countryside.
The huge Imam Square, best known as Naghsh-e Jahan Sq. (literary meaning “Image of the World”), is one of the largest in the world (500m by 160m), and a majestic example of town planning. Built in the early 17th century, the UNESCO-registered square is punctuated with the most interesting sights in Isfahan. Modern Isfahan is now home to some heavy industry, including steel factories and a nuclear facility on its outskirts, however, its inner core wants to be preserved as a priceless gem.
Government’s care and support packages
In October 2020, the tourism ministry proclaimed that a new support package was approved to pay loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Depending on the type and activity of the businesses, they could benefit from at least 160 million rials ($3,800 at the official rate of 42,000 rials) to nine billion rials ($214,000) of bank loans with a 12-percent interest rate.
The loans were allocated to tourist guides, travel agencies, tourism transport companies, tourism educational institutions, eco-lodges and traditional accommodations, hotels, apartment hotels, motels, and guesthouses as well as traditional accommodation centers, tourism complexes, and recreational centers.
Optimistic forecasts, however, expect Iran to achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/465534/Government-pays-22-1m-in-loans-to-support-tourism-businesses