People, Travel

Top Attraction May be Ceded to Private Sector

Top Attraction May be Ceded to Private SectorTop Attraction May be Ceded to Private Sector

Cultural heritage officials could hand over the imperiled Badab-e-Soort, an iconic natural heritage site in the northern Mazandaran Province, to the private sector in the coming months.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Seyyed Muhammad Sadati, chairman of Malkhast Village Council, said the fate of the site’s management would be decided in three months.

“The main obstacle now is compensating the locals who own the surrounding lands,” he said. Given the significance of the region, the Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization has to authorize tourism activity in the area.

Badab-e-Soort comprises a range of stepped travertine terrace formations created over thousands of years as flowing water from two mineral hot springs cooled and deposited carbonate minerals on the mountainside.

The top attraction made headlines for all the wrong reasons last month, when provincial officials were forced to close off the site to visitors due to damage inflicted on the area.

Carelessness on the part of officials and tourists has caused considerable damage to the site and the environment, flattening the stepped terraces and polluting the little water that still flows from the springs

The site was inscribed on the National Heritage List in 2008, making it Iran’s second natural site after Mount Damavand to make it on the prestigious list.

It is believed that the government is determined to gradually hand over tourist and cultural sites to private companies as it embarks on the tough task of attracting foreign tourists and opening the economy to the outside world.

Decades of rigid state/government control over the nascent tourist industry has failed to produce the desired results as many historic monuments have fallen into disrepair largely due to shortage of funds and mismanagement.