People, Travel

Petrodollars Hamper Tourism Development

Tourism is a green and sustainable source of revenue. (Photo: Anobanini)Tourism is a green and sustainable source of revenue. (Photo: Anobanini)

A tourism expert has renewed calls for ditching petrodollars and moving away from the oil-dependent economy in favor of green industries, such as tourism.

According to Mohammad Hossein Imani Khoshkhou, president of Iranian Tourism Scientific Association, “the fact that generating income from tourism has come into focus in recent years is due to the drop in oil prices”, travel news website Safar reported.

This means that tourism is not considered an alternative source of income, but a temporary substitute—a stopgap. 

“One cannot expect tourism infrastructure to improve as long as oil revenue casts its shadow on the industry,” he said.

Speaking at a conference on sustainable income for municipalities on Saturday, the expert also pointed to a lack of infrastructure as another challenge to the growth of tourism. 

“In spite of the relatively high number of hotels, only a handful of them can claim to meet acceptable international standards,” Koshkhou said.

Tourism is one of the best sources of sustainable urban income, especially as a majority of Iranian cities boast at least few attractions, “but almost none of this potential is exploited”.

Poor marketing is also a hurdle that the industry is facing, as Iran’s tourism capacity is virtually unknown outside the country and perhaps even for some in Iran.

For tourism to serve as a sustainable source of income for the cities, it is essential to strike a balance between supply and demand.  The expert criticized the poor management plaguing the industry, which becomes especially obvious during long holidays, such as the two-week Norouz (Iranian New Year) holidays in late March. 

“The influx of tourists to certain destinations in specific times of the year will only result in substandard services due to the imbalance between the number of travelers and available services,” he said. Khoshkhou noted that demand for traveling must be spread across the year so that tourist destinations can offer quality services and reap the financial benefit.

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