Iran tourism sector thriving despite US sanctions

TEHRAN, May 04 (MNA) – Figures disclosed by Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization show that more than 7.8 million foreigners traveled to Iran during the last Iranian year (ended on March 20), indicating a year-on-year jump of 52%% or 2.1 million visitors.

According to Ali Asghar Mounesan, the head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization, the inbound tourists brought some $11.8 billion of revenue to the country during the period.

The big jump comes in spite of the fact that the reimposition of US sanctions poses a serious threat to the emerging sector, the ICHHTO chief said.

“Despite all the externals restrictions, mostly from the US, we have managed to attract more foreign travelers to the country,” Mounesan added.

According to Mounesan, the lower costs of Iran travel packages were a key factor in making the country more attractive to foreigners. 

The huge depreciation of the rial, in the wake of the reimposed sanctions by the US, has made traveling to Iran for foreign tourists considerably cheaper. This seems to be an opportunity for fostering the promising industry of tourism in Iran.

The restrictions have also had some negative impacts to the sector, but to combat the hurdles, Iranian authorities have introduced different initiatives, including the one that eliminates the need to put official stamps on passports of foreign tourists visiting Iran

In another step, the government has increased its focus on improving tourism infrastructures by expanding the number of high-quality hotels and providing cheap loans to players in the sector.

Iran has also strived to boost its marine tourism sector in recent months; two major passenger sea routes have been activated with the country's southern neighbors in recent months and as many as a half a dozen more are in the pipeline.

Besides, the 2019 Travel Risk Map launched by global risk experts International SOS in collaboration with Control Risks, has described Iran as safe as a majority of European countries when it comes to travel security. This has had a great impact on attracting travelers to the country in the past months.

The map shows the risk level in each country and territory based on the current threat posed to travelers by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) and violent and petty crime.

Many experts, including Mounesan, believe that expanding tourism infrastructures could help the sector's income replace oil revenues.

News Code 144830

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