People, Travel

Tourism Authority Supports School Winter Break

Tourism officials argue that imposing a winter break can help boost domestic tourism.Tourism officials argue that imposing a winter break can help boost domestic tourism.

Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization has thrown its support behind a scheme to introduce school winter holiday, arguing that it will help boost domestic travel.

In February, a bill drafted by the Department of Environment to impose a winter break for schools across Iran was approved by the Council of Ministers and sent to the parliament. The bill, which already has the backing of President Hassan Rouhani and Education Minister Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani, proposes spreading school holidays across the year to reduce traffic and air pollution in winter. The bill suggests that summer holidays be cut short to allow for the implementation of a winter break.

"Closing schools for a week during winter encourages people to travel and discover new destinations; beautiful places ideal for a winter trip," Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at ICHHTO, was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

With the drop of temperature in winter, a weather phenomenon known as temperature inversion occurs in which cold air underlies warm air at higher altitude and traps air pollutants, leading to heavy smog. This phenomenon is all too familiar for residents of big cities such as Tehran and Isfahan.

DOE has been advocating a winter break for two years, arguing that it can help protect schoolchildren considered vulnerable by health experts to the impact of air pollution.

Substandard vehicles and highly-polluting industries in and around large cities are major contributors of air pollution.

Iranian automakers have been pressured by the government and DOE to produce Euro 4-compliant vehicles to improve the quality of cars that ply Tehran's streets, while DOE says it has doubled its oversight of industrial activities. The plan to impose the winter break is not without its critics. Opponents in Tehran, most of whom are members of the city council, say it will not help reduce air pollution.

However, supporters say it could be an effective short-term solution, not to mention the health benefits for vulnerable groups.


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