People, Travel

Qeshm to Launch Off-Road Racing Track

Qeshm to Launch Off-Road Racing TrackQeshm to Launch Off-Road Racing Track

The largest off-road racing circuit in Iran will open on January 13, much to the delight of adventurous holidaymakers.

“The track, which complies with international standards, will meet the expectation of domestic and foreign tourists and has the potential to host international road rallies,” IRNA quoted Akbar Torkan, the secretary of the High Council of Free and Special Economic Zones, as saying.

Efforts were made to ensure that the track, which takes up around 500 hectares, was ready before the Norouz holiday season (March 20 – April 3).

Recalling the island’s untapped tourism potential, Torkan, who is a senior advisor to President Hassan Rouhani, said projects such as the off-road racing track can help boost local tourism and, by extension, contribute to the ambitious national tourism agenda.

Qeshm’s ecological and tourism value is not lost on anyone, but year’s of mismanagement and negligence has cost the picturesque island its rightful place as a top vacation spot, not to mention global fame.

The island boasts the Middle East’s first UNESCO-listed geopark, or at least it did, until the geopark was dropped from the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) in 2013 due to problems that have remained unresolved for too long, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and unenforced environmental regulations.

Since then, the Qeshm Free Zone Organization has been trying to lift the southern island up to international standards and has received five billion rials ($153,000) to develop infrastructure.

Aside from the sandy beaches, the island’s famed mangrove forests in the Hara Protected Area draw large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists.

Last week, as part of the plan to reintroduce the geopark on the GGN and help revive indigenous tradition and culture, the first tourist wooden boat was put out to sea in the mangrove forest.

Hara Protected Area is one of five forests in Hormozgan Province and arguably the most important feature of Qeshm Geopark. With an area of 85,686 hectares, Hara is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.