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President Rouhani Appoints First Woman Tourism Chief
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President Rouhani Appoints First Woman Tourism Chief

President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday appointed Zahra Ahmadipour to helm Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, making her the first woman to head the organization. Ahmadipour, an academic who holds a PhD in geopolitics, succeeds Masoud Soltanifar, who took the reins of the Ministry of Sports and Youth last week.
Her previous positions include deputy for women’s sports at the now-defunct Physical Education Organization and a middle-rank position at the Interior Ministry.
Ahmadipour is now also a vice president, making her the third woman vice president in Rouhani’s Cabinet after Masoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Department of Environment, and Shahindokht Molaverdi, who is the vice president for women and family affairs. In a statement published on the official government website Dolat.ir, Rouhani cited Ahmadipour’s “commitment, scientific background and invaluable experience”, as reasons for her appointment.
Ahmadipour is the eighth chief of the ICHHTO since its inception in March 2006 following the merger of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization with the Handicrafts Organization. With President Hassan Rouhani’s first term coming to an end next summer, insiders do not expect much from the new chief. However, those who have faith in Rouhani’s chances of reelection are of the opinion that Ahmadipour should begin planning long term and immediately address the industry’s shortcomings, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and shortage of tour guides.
Iran aims to host 20 million annual visitors by 2025—nearly four times the current 5.2 million—which could net the country between $25 billion and $30 billion a year.

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