People, Travel

No Big Deal

No Big DealNo Big Deal

The International tourism exhibition is currently the country’s only official trade fair for the hotel and tourism industry, that is marked on the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) calendar.

Compared with more established events, most notably the concurrent Bit Milan held on February 12 – 14, the 8th Tehran International Tourism Exhibition was a lackluster event with inconsiderable foreign participation, limited public relations, and empty pavilions. Though many believe that the 8th exhibition enjoyed higher quality than the past years, it was still far below international standards.

Most international entities, renowned in the tourism industry, were absent from Tehran’s exhibition, participating in other globally significant events taking place at the same time.

There were tourism trade stakeholders who appear to have not known about the exhibition, managing director of Eco-Tour Iran Company Kianush Mehrabi said. A great investment was made in the event, but due to scarcity of visitors, the results were unsatisfactory,the Persian daily Forsat-Emruz reported.

“Even those of us who belong to the tourism industry, became aware of the exhibition through word of mouth via colleagues,” Head of Safari Club at Touring & Automobile club of the Islamic Republic of Iran Nuroddin Hashemi said, adding that the official notifications do not have a significant voice.

Creating public awareness is not limited to the time and place of the exhibition; laymen do not have any idea about what is going on in the exhibition. Often they take the exhibition as a handicraft expo.

In tourism exhibitions, one expects to meet managers and senior officials of companies, tourism expert Ahmad Roosta said; but apparently what he saw was a number of employees who were not in charge. Many of them did not even have basic information about the organization they were representing.

Roosta believes the exhibition was just a formality. The exhibition’s purpose was ignored, and most visitors were unhappy at the end of their visits.

The exhibition running concurrently with Bit Milan and Madrid’s Fitur (January 28 – February 1) indicates negligence in timing of the event, resulting in the absence of international figures, Roosta added. “International” was a wrong, ambitious tag on the title of Tehran’s tourism exhibition, Hashemi said.

The absence of foreign participants was also noticed by head of the Association of Tehran’s Travel Agencies Qolam-Reza Abazari, who attributed the problem mainly to the concurrency of Bit Milan. On the other hand, the domestic participants consisted more of the  target audience compared to previous years.

Among the activities missing at the exhibition were press interviews with foreign representatives, and organizing occasions for the participating countries to introduce themselves.

Famous exhibitions, like those in Milan and London, hire contractors to attract participants. Each contractor has a cache of major participants. South Korean based Lead Expo Co. Limited is among such contractors. Iran can cooperate with exhibition contractors for future events, Abazari added.

But before trying to attract foreign participants, who may bring foreign tourists, Hashemi argues that domestic tourism should be a priority. Once domestic tourism is developed, the infrastructure to receive foreign tourists will have been more or less prepared. “We cannot offer proper services to foreign tourists, while, many leagues behind the neighboring countries, we have yet frail piers to support the weight of our own domestic tourism.”