320 Tour Guides Become Ambassadors of Peace
When Iran won the bid to host the 17th World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations' Convention, most tour guides were reluctant to come.
Fear mongering campaigns by the vested western media had all but tarnished Iran's image, portraying it as an insecure and unstable country in one of the world's most volatile regions.
But more than 320 tour guides from 45 countries decided to attend the four-day convention that ended on Feb. 1 despite their reservations and they were pleasantly surprised.
The tour guides spent two weeks in Iran, traveling to various cities and getting acquainted with each region's attractions.
On Monday, they showed their appreciation for Iranian hospitality by forming a human chain to spell out the words "Peace Ambassadors" in Narin Qal'e, a Sassanid era (224–651) adobe castle in Meybod, Yazd Province.
A lot of work was put into ensuring the convention's success.
"For two years we were under severe pressure, so much so that at times I even considered resigning," Arash Nour-Aqaei, the head of Iran Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, told the Persian daily Shahrvand.
"Despite the challenges, we didn't lose focus. I'm very happy."
Nour-Aqaei said presenting the real image of Iran to the tour guides was the main objective.
"Because of their influence in the sector in their own countries, these tour guides can help challenge people's notions and change their minds about Iran," said Ali Malmir, the head of Hamedan Province's office of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
"They've seen the tension prevalent in the Middle East and have now experienced the stability and security present in Iran. This is peace."