People, Travel

Shortage of Guides a Hindrance

Shortage of Guides a HindranceShortage of Guides a Hindrance

A shortage of tour guides could hurt Iran’s chances of becoming a top holiday destination in the next decade, according to a member of the Iran Tour Guides’ Association.

Calling guiding tours one of the oldest professions in history, Ali Rajabi told the press last week that working as a tour guide is not considered a career in Iran, ILNA reported.

“It has no job security, so most of the 7,000 registered guides are inactive because they’ve taken other jobs with better salaries and perks,” he said, adding that guiding tours is a second or a third job for most.

“In a country like Turkey, leading groups of tourists is a full-time job with attractive benefits and bonuses, not to mention a decent salary,” Rajabi said.

Of course, the lack of job security has a lot to do with the state of the tour and travel industry. Following years of international sanctions, tourism took a beating and inbound annual figures dwindled to a mere two million visitors three years ago. However, the sector has been making progress since 2013, when President Hassan Rouhani took office resulting in the arrival of five million tourists in 2015.

Iran’s declared policy is to attract 20 million foreign visitors by 2025, but catering to their needs with hardly 7,000 guides is an immense challenge.

“Starting out as a tour guide is a daunting task for newcomers, so travel agencies and the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization must be supportive,” Rajabi said.

Iran is targeting the Russian and Chinese markets to develop its tourism sector, but a lack of tour guides fluent in Russian and Mandarin has made progress slow.

In addition, more than half of the country’s tour guides live in Tehran, which can hardly be called a tourist hub when compared with the major attractions in Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Yazd, to name a just a few.