People, Travel

12% Rise in Tourism Budget

12% Rise in Tourism Budget12% Rise in Tourism Budget

The government has earmarked a 12% increase in the tourism authority’s funding in its proposed budget bill for the next fiscal year that starts on March 21, 2017.

President Hassan Rouhani’s government is investing in the tourism industry to jumpstart the sluggish economy following the lifting of international sanctions in January, ISNA reported.

In the draft budget submitted to the parliament by Rouhani earlier this week, about 7.8 trillion rials ($200 million) are allocated to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, which covers current expenditures ($65 million), special expenditures ($2.8 million) and capital assets of the organization (about $132 million). 

In the current Iranian year (started March 20), the organization received 6.9 trillion rials ($179 million) in funding, a 45% increase compared to its previous budget of $133 million.

The allocated fund for the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism almost doubled to 490 billion rials ($12.5 million) for the next year.

About  17 billion rials ($436,000) have been earmarked for the organization’s Center for Regional Studies in Central and West Asia for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage.

There has been no change in the exit tax (a fee charged whenever an Iranian leaves the country). Air travelers are charged 750,000 rails ($19) and those traveling by land and sea pay 250,000 rials ($6.5). 

The new budget calls for allocating 100,000 rials ($2.5) from every exit fee to development of tourism infrastructure.

The government aims to move away from an oil-dependent economy and is contemplating tourism as a possible alternative, although this income avenue still has a long way to go.

Iran currently receives over 5.1 million tourists every year, most of whom are pilgrims who visit the shrine of the eighth imam of Shia Muslims, Imam Reza (PBUH), in Mashhad. 

The country’s long-term goal is to annually host 20 million tourists by 2025, increasing its meager annual revenue of $7.5 billion by more than threefold.

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