People, Travel

Regional Issues Impacting Inbound Tourism

Regional Issues Impacting Inbound Tourism Regional Issues Impacting Inbound Tourism

The changes in Iran's political ties with neighboring countries over the past year has negatively affected the country's inbound tourism during the first half of the current Iranian year (started March 20).

Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, blamed the decline on Iran's weaker diplomatic ties with the regional countries and the neighbors' economic problems.

"Neighboring countries are primary targets for attracting tourists and close relations, especially with these countries, is key to the industry's development," he said while addressing a festival in Kerman Province, ISNA reported.

While the number of foreign tourists from Europe increased by up to 80%, fewer travelers from the Persian Gulf states visited Iran in the six-month period.

"About 84% of inbound tourists were from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Afghanistan in the last Iranian year," he said, though he did not present precise figures.

Between 2011 and 2015, Iran's inbound tourism saw an average growth of 10% per year. Plans are underway to increase it further.

Movahed said precise and detailed programs for the development of tourism have been prepared and included in the sixth five-year development plan (2016-21).

Measures have also been taken to develop halal tourism, including the issuance of permits for institutions keen on operating in this field.

A highly sought-after sector, halal tourism's contribution to annual global tourism revenue is $200 billion.

Iran also has high potentials in ecotourism, because of which officials have agreed to open up Khabr National Park in Kerman to ecotourists.

"After months of attempts and with the cooperation of Iran's National Committee for Ecotourism, we managed to declare parts of the national park as ecotourism sites and the directive will be communicated to relevant organizations this week," Movahed said.

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