People, Travel

Iran’s Religious Tourism Lagging

Iran’s Religious Tourism LaggingIran’s Religious Tourism Lagging

Although three million pilgrims visit Iran annually, the sector is still underperforming, according to a faculty member at Tehran University.

Mohammad Reza Rezvani also lamented that Iran’s religious tourism is merely centered on attracting Shiites while holy Islamic sites appeal to non-Muslims as well.

“Many non-Muslims visit some Islamic sites merely because of the unique cultural and architectural aspects of such places,” he was quoted as saying by

According to the latest figures, five million tourists, mainly Shiites, visit Iran annually, of whom three million are pilgrims mainly from neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Persian Gulf states.

Lack of diversity in package tours offered by travel agents and tour operators is another issue impeding the sector’s development.

“There are no special package tours for Christians and Zoroastrians pilgrims,” he said.

“Lack of transport infrastructure is also a big challenge facing the tourism industry and consequently religious tourism.”

Rezvani called on relevant officials to attract more pilgrims through better marketing.

Religious tourism, with about 300 to 330 million pilgrims worldwide, comprises 25% of total global tourism. For pilgrims visiting Iran, the shrines of Imam Reza (PBUH) and Hazrat Massoumah (PBUH) s in Khorasan Razavi and Qom provinces are most popular attractions.

Other popular religious attractions include Vank Cathedral in Isfahan Province, Jamkaran Mosque in Qom Province and Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in Yazd Province.

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