People, Travel

Lut Desert Tourism Requires Long-Term Planning

Lut Desert is Iran’s only natural site on the UNESCO World Heritage List.Lut Desert is Iran’s only natural site on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

A world heritage site and home to the planet’s hottest location, Lut Desert has all the makings of a top attraction, but why is it not one?

According to Iran’s top tourism official, it is due to poor planning.

Lut Desert, a vast salt desert shared between the provinces of Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in July, becoming Iran’s first natural heritage site on the list.

The country now boasts 21 world heritage sites, more than any other country in the Middle East.

Zahra Ahmadipour, the newly-appointed head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, says the site “should be the subject of long-term planning”, helping Kerman’s tourism and, by extension, the local economy.

Ahmadipour’s predecessor, Masoud Soltanifar, who is now the minister of sports and youth affairs, had called on government entities to take steps for developing tourism infrastructure in the region.

Soltanifar had said Lut Desert, which used to pose an obstacle in the way of development due to its climatic conditions, has now become an increasingly popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Locally called Dasht-e Lut, it is a salt desert in northeastern Kerman Province. The 25th largest desert in the world is also one of the hottest places on Earth and recorded the highest temperature ever measured on the planet in 2005: 70.7 degrees Celsius.

“Hills of Kenar Sandal, located in Jiroft County in southern Kerman, and almost all other parts of the ancient province, are in dire need of attention and planning to help develop tourism here,” Ahmadipour was quoted as saying by

“Handicrafts (hand-woven carpet), agriculture (dates and pistachio), cultural heritage sites and mining industries are Kerman’s strong points, able to set an outstanding example in the industries.”  

Referring to Kerman as a popular travel destination of foreign tourists in the last two years, the authorities hope the numbers will increase following the implementation of future tourism projects.

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