Stimulus for Rural Growth, Income Via Tourism

In 2015, rural population fell to the unbelievable level of 28% from the 80 million population. In 2015, rural population fell to the unbelievable level of 28% from the 80 million population.

With the aim to create rural jobs and help curb the alarming pattern of migration from villages to the overcrowded cities, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) has developed a pilot plan which will soon be implemented in 76 villages .

Under the scheme, rural historical houses will be turned either into touristic and cultural attractions with craft workshops or accommodations for both Iranian and foreign tourists. The plan will benefit the original residents of the homes besides creating work for the local people.

The program will be implemented in cooperation with the Islamic Revolution Housing Foundation, Interior Ministry, and provincial governorates, said Farhad Nazari, the official in charge of inscription of historical sites at ICHHTO, Iranian Agriculture News Agency (IANA) reported.

“The pilot plan will be implemented in four provinces of Kermanshah, Ilam, Sistan-Baluchestan, and Kurdistan. If successful, it will be expanded nationwide,” he said.

Villages identified for the scheme have the highest capacity and potential in natural heritage and cultural tourism.

The scheme is a part of a five-year memorandum of understanding signed earlier between the Interior Ministry and ICHHTO with the aim to develop cultural tourism, sustainable growth of small towns and villages through development of local handicrafts and the cottage industry, effective management of historical and cultural sites, reviving handicrafts and traditional arts as a way to improve community economies and preserving the historically valuable elements in towns and villages.

On May 8, the first meeting of the executive committee for implementation of the MoU was held in Tehran.

At the meeting two important measures, on enhancing handicraft production in the villages covered under the pilot plan and development of tourism in places with a population of less than 100,000 people, were discussed.

“After our experts visited different villages and small cities, we realized there is great potential in some of them which can create jobs for the local people and reduce the rate of migration to bigger cities and metropolises,” Nazari said.

   Rural-Urban Migration

According to published data, in 1956 the rural population comprised 70% of the population of 19 million. In 2015 it fell to the unbelievable level of 28% from the 80 million population.

Results of the National Population and Housing Census released in February, show that during the past five years 3.9 million people moved from rural to urban areas.

The census found out that of this number 20.2% moved to Tehran, 7.3% went to Khorasan Razavi Province, 6.8% to Isfahan and the remaining to other cities, according to Omid Ali Parsa, head of Statistical Center of Iran (SCI).

Currently, from among the 64,000 villages in the country several thousand are completely deserted and in fact abandoned due to the deteriorating economy, joblessness and long years of drought for decades that saw unusually large numbers of people migrating to cities in search of work.

Experts have warned that if the trend continues, the rural population will further decline to 22% by 2031. Implementation of programs for sustainable rural development can check the growing rate of rural to urban migration and its negative impacts that have already overwhelmed policy and decision-makers.

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