People, Travel

Modernizing Infrastructure Key to Iranian Tourism

Modernizing Infrastructure Key to Iranian TourismModernizing Infrastructure Key to Iranian Tourism

Developing Iran’s infrastructure is essential to developing the country’s tourism, according to a top official at the Economic Cooperation Organization.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the First ECO-Silk Road Food Festival in Zanjan on Tuesday, Hayri Maraslioglu, the organization’s deputy secretary-general, recalled Turkey’s past struggles with tourism, IRNA reported.

“In 1980, Turkish officials began studying tactics used by countries with a thriving tourism industry and realized that developing infrastructure was of paramount importance,” he said.

Maraslioglu said Turkey began expanding roads and building hotels and restaurants, as well as easing visas.

The official pointed to Iran’s lack of access to the global banking system and said the problem must be addressed as soon as possible.

Iran has started offering prepaid travel cash cards called “tourist card”, which is a debit card offered only at the Imam Khomeini International Airport. The card has a maximum $5,000 balance and is rechargeable.

Tourism officials have said once the sanctions are lifted, foreign travelers will be able to use international credit cards in Iran.

Speaking about the food festival, Maraslioglu said the event has proven to be a success and added, “About 30% of tourists’ expenditure are on food, making the industry a great area for investment. Traditional foods showcase the culture of a region’s people, which appeal to many tourists.”