People, Travel

Iran’s Share of World Halal Tourism Meager

Iran’s Share of World Halal Tourism MeagerIran’s Share of World Halal Tourism Meager

Iran’s share of the $162-billion halal tourism sector is a meager 3%, which in no way reflects the country’s potential in this key category of tourism, according to the country’s top tourism official.

Speaking to reporters last week, Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said the country’s revenue from halal tourism is $3.7 billion, about half of Iran’s total annual tourism revenue of $7.5 billion.

About half of Iran’s 5 million annual tourists are pilgrims and religious tourists, with a third of all visitors traveling to Mashhad in northeastern Iran, which houses the mausoleum of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Shia imam.

Turning Iran into a halal tourism hotspot has been a priority for Soltanifar’s ICHHTO ever since he took the helm of the organization in 2013.

“Iran has to realize its potential and must become the center of halal tourism for Muslims all over the world,” he told Financial Tribune in March.

Soltanifar, who doubles as a vice president, has often said Iran has more than 90% of the infrastructure it needs to become a top halal destination, giving it an edge over most other countries.

However, Iran’s push to promote itself as a halal destination has critics who claim advertizing Iran as such is meaningless because the governing laws are Islamic.

Some even say by promoting Iran as a halal vacation spot, tourists may be wrongfully led to believe that there is such a thing as non-halal tourism in the country.

On the other hand, proponents of the organization’s policies, who acknowledge Iran is a halal destination, argue that what it lacks is the lack of effective marketing. They believe thaty by promoting Iran as a halal destination, the country will be able to draw more tourists from Muslim and non-Muslim countries.