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January 2018, No. 86


Tourism

Iran Visa on Arrival for Visitors from 180 Countries


“There are many cultural tourists in the world who are interested in visiting museums, historical monuments, ancient civilizations and historical cities; fortunately we have plenty of such places in Iran,” said Mounesan.


Ali Asghar Mounesan, head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) says Iran issues 3-month airport visa for tourists from 180 countries. He says the measure has been taken to promote Iran’s rich art and culture and its fantastic climate diversity.

Commenting on the structure of his organization, he said: “ICHHTO is composed of various sections. One section relates to the ancient civilization of Iran and the valuable historical and artistic works and is run by ICHHTO deputy director for cultural heritage; the second part is related to handicrafts which deal with great masters who have a longstanding history of beautiful art works. So these sections should help us showcase these precious works and our ancient civilization to all people around the world. This would also help promote tourism and acquaint domestic and foreign tourists with Iran’s beauties and arts.”

He said: “Iran is an ancient country with precious historical monuments. It is a country that has shaped human civilization. Fortunately, there are historical monuments everywhere in this great land; you can find few cities not possessing such works. Unfortunately, we have not been able to introduce our country’s advantages in terms of historical and cultural heritage. However, we plan to introduce them to the whole world through sound planning.”

“There are many cultural tourists in the world who are interested in visiting museums, historical monuments, ancient civilizations and historical cities; fortunately we have plenty of such places in Iran,” said Mounesan. In addition to historical monuments, we have historical cities. Yazd for instance is a city registered in the list of world heritage. In addition, Isfahan, Mashhad and Tabriz are also historical cities and we need to work more to promote them globally to attract more foreign tourists.”

Tourism Industry, the Third Booming Industry in the World

He further noted: “Tourism industry is recognized as the world’s third largest industry. This industry plays a significant role in the gross domestic product of many countries. In other words, they  have to do a lot to bring tourists to their country. They should create many museums and implement many attractive projects. But fortunately we have all these precious and unique works the world would wish to have, in our country.

“Now, the number of outgoing Iranian tourists is almost twice the incoming visitors. In a country with the rich historical background of Iran, this equation must be reversed. We hope to be able to play our part in the economy and create employment and improve the status of the ICHHTO in the country.

“Each country has its own rules, regulations and culture, a small part of which is recreational tourism; while we have cultural, sports and scientific tourism in Iran. Our recreational tourism is a small part within the context of halal tourism which can make a lot of money considering the huge Muslim population all over the world.

“In the meantime, many incoming tourists are from European countries who are interested in inspecting our precious monuments and museums. We host five million foreign tourists annually, but the figure should go higher. We have countries in the region with limited geography and history which attract four to five times more tourists than Iran. Therefore, we do not consider Islamic norms an obstacle in the way of attracting foreign tourists.”

Halal Tourism Does Not Just Include Islamic Countries

The ICHHTO head continued: “Halal tourism does not include just Islamic countries. Like halal food, which is not specific to Islamic countries, halal tourism is the same. We believe that the atmosphere of tourism in the country is recreation coupled with security and tranquility, and families can take proper advantage of this space.

“Humanitarian goals would not accept the creation of unpleasant atmospheres where sin is committed; therefore, entertaining tourist spaces where sin is promoted is not appropriate and many people would avoid it. With the nature it has, our country is prepared for healthy recreation and this is not restricted to Muslims but is for all human beings.

“The country’s development document is the sixth development plan law. The Iranian parliament has approved that by 2025 the number of tourists should increase from five million to 20 million. I hope with the help of the government and the parliament we would achieve this great goal, given the capabilities and potentials that we have.

“The infrastructures of the country are good, and the model of our accommodation is proportional to our historical capacities. We now have about 3,400 places for tourist accommodation, of which 1,100 are hotels. But we believe that the tourists entering Iran are looking for ecotourism. To this end, we have turned part of our historical spaces into place for tourist accommodation, because luxury hotels exist in all world countries. Right now, dozens of modern and luxury hotels are under construction and we have hundreds of historical sites for tourists to stay.

“We have recorded good growth in the health tourism sector, and we have a favorable standing in the world; our country has good advantages in all sectors of tourism. Many tourists enter the country for this purpose. One reason is that we have good medical equipment and staff in this sector.

“In religious tourism sector, we have high capacities and the holy city of Mashhad is only one example.

“In natural tourism sector, we can refer to the four-season nature of Iran. For example, when we are in Kish Island, the weather is very favorable and spring like; but by taking a 30-minute flight to Shiraz and Sepidan county you can enjoy snow skiing. This is a sign of varied climate of the country.

“The culmination of our work is well developing cultural tourism due to our ancient culture; but we lag behind in sports tourism sector.”

The ICHHTO director said: “Due to the country’s diverse climate and sports facilities, we can host foreign sports teams camping. Given the similarity of the weather in our southern islands with that of Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, we can host different foreign teams camping in Iran. “

He concluded by saying: “We have tried to provide a lot of facilities for arrival of foreign tourists; we issue three-month airport visa for visitors from 180 countries. We also have good cooperation with UNESCO due to the cultural nature of our country.”

 

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