People, Travel
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National Travel Fund Gains Momentum

National Travel Fund Gains MomentumNational Travel Fund Gains Momentum

The establishment of a national travel fund can help make traveling more affordable for families that may otherwise be unable to travel, the director of the Association of Air Transport and Tourism Agencies of Iran said.

“The plan, which was proposed a long time ago, would provide the opportunity for low-income families to enjoy travel discounts and subsidies in low seasons,” Mohammad Hassan Kermani was also quoted as saying by Tasnim News Agency.

High travel costs make it difficult for many to leave the monotony of daily life behind, which in the long run reduces productivity and may have undesirable impacts on mental health.

Kermani explained that the fund would be set up with the government’s financial assistance and small monthly contributions by people.

“Travel costs are unlikely to drop and private enterprises are reluctant to accommodate low-income families,” he added. “Therefore, the proposed fund would be of immense help.”

Transportation, accommodation and food costs make up the bulk of travel expenses. During the peak travel season, it is not uncommon to find families staying in schools (repurposed to serve as temporary residence) or set up tents in parks.

Kermani said the fund should aim to promote trips to less-visited areas and spread travel across the year, instead of focusing on specific periods such as the two-week Norouz (Iranian New Year) holidays in late March.

Last May, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said it would launch a scheme to subsidize travel for select destinations to help promote domestic tourism.

Initially, “travel subsidy” misled people into believing they would receive a payment to travel, but it was later clarified that the subsidy would be paid to travel agencies conducting tours to those locations.

These destinations include the provinces of Kerman, Kermanshah, Kurdestan, Lorestan, South Khorasan, Sistan-Baluchestan and Hormozgan.

According to the most recent figures released by the Statistical Center of Iran, 46% of Iranians did not travel last summer for a variety of reasons, including low purchasing power.

Subsidizing travel can no doubt help reduce that figure, as most families opt not to travel simply because it takes a toll on their coffers.

However, critics argue that the money spent on funding government-subsidized travel would be better used if it was spent on infrastructure and offering loans to tourism projects, which will increase traveling options and cater to the needs of a wider cross-section of people.

 

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