People, Travel

Iran Announces Ecotourism Investment Guidelines

Iran Announces Ecotourism Investment Guidelines Iran Announces Ecotourism Investment Guidelines

Iran has announced guidelines for investment in ecotourism zones after the Department of Environment, Agricultural Jihad Ministry and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization approved them.

The guidelines were finalized after expert workgroups comprising members of the abovementioned entities and the National Ecotourism Committee, which is a wing of ICHHTO, held numerous meetings.

According to Mohammad Ali Fayyazi, the head of NEC, the guidelines set out the policies for facilitating investment in designated areas while ensuring environmental conservation.

“The document clearly specifies the types of structures that can be built in the areas, which will not harm the environment,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

Natural sites that are ready for investment will be given priority over those that require preparation. The first region slated to become available to investors is Khabar Rural District in Kerman Province.

“The committee intends to construct a resort in Khabar, the design of which is inspired by local architecture and traditions,” he said.

“It would be a major step forward if we manage to involve the private sector in implementing our projects.”

The DOE has signed off on the project’s environmental assessment and is currently reviewing the tourism goals proposed by the committee for Khabar.

“If the DOE approves our tourism scheme, we should be ready to start the project within three weeks,” Fayyazi said.

The project is expected to be a model for future tourist schemes in protected areas, which are carried out under the DOE’s supervision.

 2,000 Eco-Lodges Planned

On a different note, Fayyazi said the government is planning to increase the number of eco-lodges in Iran to 2,000 by the end of the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21).

“The lodging facilities will be located in 500 villages across the country,” he said.

“About 274 eco-lodges have been built throughout the country since the beginning of 2016.”

An eco-lodge is a type of tourist accommodation designed to have the least possible impact on the natural environment in which it is situated.

So far, 68 investors have received loans worth $28,000 each with a 4% interest rate to help them build eco-lodges.

Fayyazi said those interested will also be able to rent old buildings for five-year periods to restore and repurpose the structures.

Hiring and training tourist guides are currently underway. Other plans, such as online reservation system, will officially go into effect from the second half of the current Irannian year (started March 20).

“There are about 38,000 villages in the country and this means the presumed capacity of ecotourism centers in the country is much more than what is predicted in the plan,” he said.