People, Travel

Ecotourism Key to Growth

Ecotourism Key to GrowthEcotourism Key to Growth

The Tehran-based Omid Entrepreneurship Fund has made supporting ecotourism and rural tourism schemes a priority, which is aimed at creating jobs and generating a decent income for rural residents.

Asghar Nourollahzadeh, head of OEF, said empowering rural populations through ecotourism is in line with the principles of “Resistance Economy,” which is why the fund offers loans to those willing to invest in this niche sector.

“Iran’s rural regions are brimming with potential that must be tapped and used,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Labeling ecotourism and rural tourism as lucrative, Nourollahzadeh said, “Among different types of tourism in Iran, including religious, historical and medical, rural tourism is the one we have decided to focus our financial resources on. It has great capacities for job creation, and also, it is more appealing to tourists.”

Addressing the field’s shortfalls and developing infrastructure will help boost domestic and inbound tourism.

“After the signing of the historic nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers last July, there has been a slow but steady rise in the number of western visitors, since traveling to Iran has become easier,” he explained.

Investing in and developing small businesses in rural areas will lead to a stronger local economy that can help stymie migration to big cities, which are already overcrowded.

“Handicrafts, traditional foods and souvenirs are but a few areas that can become major sources of income for the locals, if they receive financial support,” Nourollahzadeh said.

Tourism industry is a driving force of world economy and one of the main agents in reducing poverty. In Iran, too, tourism is widely regarded by officials as one of the best ways to lift Iran’s economy out of the stagnation and put it on the path to recovery.