People, Travel

Plans to Boost Tourism in Free Zones

Plans to Boost Tourism in Free ZonesPlans to Boost Tourism in Free Zones

Drawing up plans to enhance tourism and establishing a tourism coordination council for free trade zones are among the priorities of the Supreme Council of Iran’s Free Trade, Industrial and Special Economic Zones.

Based on every zone’s tourism potential, the plans are currently being drawn up for most zones.

“Plans for some zones have already been devised,” said Alireza Rahimi, the council’s head of tourism, according to the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad.

“No new laws are required to facilitate the development of tourism in the zones,” he said, adding that current laws had not been exploited properly.

Normally, free zones are located in border regions, which give them an advantage. Their geographical proximity and accommodating laws makes them prime locations for the development of tourism, so long as the opportunities are seized.

Experts are of the opinion that attracting tourists from the Persian Gulf countries is not only a possibility, but a great opportunity due to the commonality of religion, their high per capita income and the boom in their public welfare in recent years which has increased their interest in traveling.    

Rahimi noted that each of Iran’s seven free trade zones needs specific plans because “they do not have the same infrastructure.”

Their priorities may vary from development of human resources and attracting investment to marketing and advertising.

  Investment Crucial

Development of tourism in free trade zones demands heavy investment and officials have to first identify the areas in need of investment.

The main purpose of establishing free trade zones was to attract foreign investors to the Iranian market. To that end, laws governing the regions are aimed at facilitation of travel and promotion of trade.

Health Minister Seyyed Hassan Hashemi recently said his ministry is committed to developing and promoting health tourism in the free trade areas and called on officials to cooperate with the ministry to help develop medical tourism in the regions.

According to the official, the Rouhani administration has pledged to develop healthcare and medical tourism in the free trade zones since 2013. To help achieve that goal, measures have been taken to boost the healthcare budget of every zone and equip hospitals with modern technology.

Hailed as a green industry, tourism officials and experts have called on the government to gradually start shifting away from an oil-based economy in favor of tourism as an eco-friendly, profitable and sustainable alternative.