People, Travel

Despite Progress, Ecolodge Numbers Still Low

Despite Progress, Ecolodge Numbers Still LowDespite Progress, Ecolodge Numbers Still Low

In spite of a visible increase in the number of ecolodges, Iran is still facing a shortage in the sector. 

According to Mohammad Ali Fayyazi, ecotourism director at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Iran needs 38,000 ecolodges, IRNA reported. "A target of 2,000 ecolodges has been set in the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21), which seems very modest compared with the country's enormous potential and growing demand," he said during a meeting with managers of accommodations in Kashan, Isfahan Province. 

Ecotourism has been one of the main focuses of the present administration and since the launch of this initiative in 2013, the number of natural tourist sites in Iran has grown from 23 to over 540 at present, IRNA reported.  Omid Entrepreneurship Fund has offered 150 billion rials ($3.8 million) in the form of loans for the expansion of ecolodges. 

"The promotion of ecotourism can make a significant contribution to generating sustainable employment, especially in deprived regions, and reverse the trend of migration," Fayyazi said.

Rural tourism, a variant of ecotourism, can also help keep people in villages and prevent their migration to suburban areas. Around 11% of Iran's population live in poor conditions on the outskirts of large cities. 

The official said about 32,000 village chiefs have provided ICHHTO with a list of their districts' cultural, recreational, religious and natural potentials, hoping to benefit from the merits of rural tourism. 

Early this week, Fayyazi visited historical houses and vacation homes in Kashan along with Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at ICHHTO and provincial officials. Isfahan is a leading province in terms of ecolodges. About 130 out of 540 lodges in the country are located in this province.  

Ecolodge is a type of tourist accommodation designed to have the minimum possible impact on the natural environment around it. While the expansion of natural lodging places is considered a key element in achieving sustainable development, certain groups (comprised mainly of hotel owners) argue that they will negatively affect the operation of other types of accommodation.

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