People, Travel

ICHHTO Budget Rise Negligible

ICHHTO Budget Rise NegligibleICHHTO Budget Rise Negligible

A lawmaker said the rise in funding for Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization next year is negligible, given the rate of inflation (11.2%).

Last week, the government submitted next fiscal year’s (starts March 21, 2017) budget bill to the Majlis, allocating about 7.8 trillion rials ($200 million) to the organization, a 12% increase compared to its previous budget of 6.9 trillion rials ($179 million).

The amount covers current expenditures ($65 million), special expenditures ($2.8 million) and capital assets of the organization (about $132 million).

However, Zabihollah Nikfar, the spokesperson of the Majlis cultural heritage and tourism group, said the rise in funding is insignificant and insufficient, ISNA reported.

Pointing to the country’s long-term goal of annually hosting 20 million tourists by 2025, he said, “If we face financial shortages in developing infrastructures and devising plans, the industry will have its work cut out.”

Nikfar added that although the government increased the organization’s budget in the last fiscal year, ICHHTO “did not receive all the funding it was promised”.

“Tourism is one of the most profitable industries in the world; it requires more attention,” he said.

In response, Rahim Zare’, the spokesman of Majlis Economic Commission, promised to “consider the industry’s needs when reviewing the budget bill”.

Zare’ said developing tourism and paying attention to cultural heritage and handicrafts are important due to the sectors’ potential for bringing foreign currency into Iran.

While the three sectors require the government’s financial backing “in their early stages”, they will “rely less on public funding once they’ve established themselves”.

The current government is focused on tourism industry to jumpstart the sluggish economy following the lifting of international sanctions in January. It aims to move away from an oil-dependent economy, contemplating tourism as a possible alternative, although this avenue has a long way to go before it generates a substantial amount of income.


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