People, Travel

Renewed Call for Two-Day Weekend, Spreading Travel

Renewed Call for Two-Day Weekend, Spreading TravelRenewed Call for Two-Day Weekend, Spreading Travel

A member of the Tourism Commission at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has once again called for a revision of public holidays and extending the Iranian weekend.

Stressing the importance of the matter, Mohammad Reza Kha’ef has called on the commission to take up the case, once again, with the Majlis (parliament).

“Iran is the only country in the world that has designated half day Thursdays and Fridays as its weekend. That keeps the country’s business out of touch with the world for almost four consecutive days (Thursday afternoon to Sunday evening),” he said at a recent meeting of the commission.

According to the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, a sister publication of the Financial Tribune, Kha’ef proposed staggering out public holidays throughout the year.

“Afghanistan was the last Muslim nation to shift its weekend from Thursdays and Fridays to Fridays and Saturdays,” he noted.

Mohsen Mehralizadeh, head of the commission, pointed to a report by the TCCIMA on the state of national holidays in Iran and the world, saying that with 27 public holidays, the Islamic Republic has the highest number of annual public holidays in the world after Sri Lanka.

“There are only 7 national holidays in the US, 8 in Brazil, and 9 in Canada, Germany, and the UK,” Mehralizadeh said.

  Two Calendars, Multiple Problems

Taking stock of the fact that a bill concerning the issue has been sent to the Majlis 11 times over the past three years, director of the Tourism Studies and Education Department at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization, Mohsen Ranjbar, said, “Several studies carried out by a number of organizations have failed to yield any positive results so far. A major problem is that Iranians have two different calendars, the solar (Persian) and the lunar (Hijri).”  

Because the lunar, or Islamic, calendar has 354 days, it keeps shifting forward by a few days on the Iranian calendar, and because many of Iranian holidays are based on the Islamic calendar, this creates problems.

“Sometimes, we only have 20 public holidays in a year because the holidays on the two calendars clash and fall on the same day,” he said.

A second problem, Ranjbar added, is the long interval between holiday seasons. After the annual two-week New Year (Norouz) break in March there is no long holiday until the following March. This is while in many countries, there is a two-week Christmas holiday in December/January and a 14-day Easter holiday/spring break in April.

“Concentration of holidays at the end of the year (in Norouz) leaves people hungry for vacations, and as a result traffic is chaotic across all major roads in the country as soon as there are two consecutive days off,” he noted.

The case is being looked into at the Social Council of the Interior Ministry. One of the proposals being reviewed suggests adding a winter holiday period in order to spread out holidays throughout the year. It aims, among other things,  to help the southern and hot regions get a share in the tourism pie.