May 31, 2023

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Minister calls for travel initiatives for low-income Iranians

TEHRAN – Low-income groups should have easier access to travel, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami has said.

Providing travel assistance to low-income groups needs to be one of the priorities of the tourism ministry, he explained on Sunday.

While high-end accommodation centers had a very good occupancy rate during the Noruz holidays, low-level accommodation centers had a decreasing occupancy rate, despite an increase in tourists, the minister added.

This shows that the Gini coefficient has increased and those who can afford to travel well can do so, while the middle and lower middle classes cannot even take advantage of cheaper accommodations, even though tourism should be available to all of them, he mentioned.

Back in August, the minister announced that the ministry was looking at ways to help reduce the cost of traveling for domestic holidaymakers.

“Over the past year, we have recognized 20 obstacles in the path of tourism development in the country… By strengthening domestic tourism, we would be able to boost employment and improve the national economy,” Zarghami explained.

“Domestic travels constitute 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.”

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.

Mass COVID-19 vaccinations, consecutive fam tours for foreign tour operators, easing travel procedures, and fresh strategies, altogether, suggest Iran is determined to experience a tourism rebound with a greater reliance on its numerous tourist spots of which 26 are UNESCO World Heritage, above all, its welcoming people.



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