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Iran’s Minister of Culture Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts says the country is planning to boost its tourism revenues, and turn it into its top source of income as a replacement for oil.
According to Ali Asghar Mounesan, tourism as an emerging source of revenue in Iran can make a great contribution to the country’s economy in difficult times, and many efforts have been made so far to turn tourism into a highly profitable sector in the country.
“In the coming years, tourism will act as an important and primary economic source in the country,” said Mounesan, highlighting that, “If we had focused on tourism earlier, the problem of employment and fair distribution of wealth would have been resolved sooner.”
He said good tourism infrastructure is in place, and “in a calm environment, the trend of tourism will have good leaps.”
No city has developed through industry alone, he said. “There are advanced cities that can accommodate many tourists, so tourism creates high-rate employment and needs low investment,” added the minister.
He said tourism has prospered in the country while there have been many threatening elements such as sanctions, decreased number of flights, etc.
“However, the number of foreign tourists has increased from 4.6 million to 7.8 million in 2017. In the first seven months of this year, 6 million foreign tourists have travelled to the country and we hope it will reach ten million by the end of the year.”
Pointing out that the volume of investment is increasing day by day, he said more than 150 million USD is being invested in 2,400 tourism projects and more than 500 cases are in residential and hotel units.
“We have tried to diversify tourism products and work on tourism capacities, including eco-tourism which has attracted a lot of foreign tourists,” said Mounesan.
Hyrcanian Forests in Mazandaran Province
Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate the registration of the Hyrcanian Forests on the list of World Heritage Sites earlier this week, he underlined that tourism will result in a fair distribution of wealth and income.
“Hyrcanian forests, which date back to 50 million years ago according to estimates, are the second Iranian natural heritage registered in the world,” he noted.
The minister maintained that the Hyrcanian forests belong to the people of the world, adding “From now on we must protect this precious heritage more carefully.”
“The people of Mazandaran have long been able to protect and preserve the Hyrcanian forests, and we hope this will serve as a reason for further development of tourism in Mazandaran,” he maintained.
Mazandaran province in northern Iran is an important hub for tourism with its unique nature, and ancient history, he noted.
“Mazandaran can become the country’s ecotourism hub,” the minister maintained, adding that this province has great potential in seaside tourism.
He also noted that the country has a lot of forests and natural resources, stressing there are 34,000 nationally and 24 internationally registered works, as well as 600 active museums across the country that have put tourism at the forefront of Iran’s economy.