People, Travel

DoE Clarifies Ashuradeh Tourism Dispute

DoE Clarifies Ashuradeh Tourism DisputeDoE Clarifies Ashuradeh Tourism Dispute

Ashuradeh island, Mazandaran Province “is now more of an organizational dispute hub than a tourist center,” as reported by the Persian daily E’temad.

Apparently, the State Inspectorate Organization had intervened in the memorandum of understanding signed by the Department of Environment (DoE) and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) to turn Ashuradeh into a tourist hub. It is said that the inspectorate sent a letter to the DoE, ruling that the tourism plan be suspended.

But the DoE and ICHHTO both deny the existence of such a letter. “We have been given no letter containing such directives from the inspectorate. The DoE has received no writ. The inspectorate officials have asked questions – as they usually do when there is something to clarify – and we have provided them with answers. It is only natural,” head of the DoE Masumeh Ebtekar said in a telephone interview.

According to Ebtekar, the DoE has sent ICHHTO no letter to suspend the operations of the island’s tourism projects. “We only asked them to consider the legal aspects; and that was routine. We ask all organizations to wait until the evaluation process is complete. This sort of correspondence is normal. For all the projects which are yet to be evaluated, the legal office of the DoE declares that the executive officials should not launch the operations. The warning is sent to prevent possible negligence, she said.

When asked about coincidence of the DoE’s letter to ICHHTO and the statement of the inspectorate, Ebtekar denied any relevance. “The DoE’s letter was sent to assuage those concerned about environmental issues. It was more related to civil societies than the inspectorate. Environmental experts and activists are of high significance to us, and we would only be happy to consider their opinions.” The conservation strategy of the DoE is in accord with the Global Convention on Biological Diversity. Based on tourism rules and special studies, the department will be guided to manage the issue, Ebtekar said.

All reserves and national parks will be equipped with cameras and satellite gear for their better protection. But local communities and nearby villages should also enjoy the benefits of the reserved areas through eco-tourism projects. “This is where we welcome private investors, encouraging them to involve local communities,” she said. Once the locals are aware of the importance of environmental issues and challenges, “they will watch their own land and organize eco-tours. Thus there will be fewer instances of illegal hunting or grazing, resulting in fewer tribal disputes,” She noted.

Ebtekar was sure about the benefits of the eco-tourism on Ashuradeh island. “The plan has worked well throughout the world. Everything is going as planned. It will surely yield favorable results here too,” she added.