Travel & Tourism Gets Airtime

Travel & Tourism Gets AirtimeTravel & Tourism Gets Airtime

A fter many years and much negotiation, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has finally given some airtime to travel and tourism, Rasaneh Miras, the public relations department of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), reported.

This long overdue move is in step with other world tourist destinations that receive the support of both private and state-run media outlets as a powerful vehicle for promoting national attractions, foods, customs and traditions to a domestic as well as international audience.

Shoma, a state-run TV channel, recently agreed with ICHHTO to establish a program called Chamedan or ‘Suitcase’ to promote domestic tourism. The program will introduce ethnic groups and touristic attractions to the home audience.

Previous managers of IRIB did not cooperate with ICHHTO citing reasons like limited range of frequencies or programming conflict (for instance with the Isfahan channel), head of ICHHTO’s public relations office Hamid Ziaeeparvar said; but the talisman was broken two weeks ago when IRIB adopted a new approach.

Shoma channel agreed to allocate 4 hours to programs of ICHHTO, including repeats. “This way, there are eight hours of travel and tourism programs every 24 hours,” Ziaeeparvar said.  The ICHHTO head, Masud Soltanifar obliged all the organization’s managers to cooperate with Shoma.

  Economic Benefit

A report called “The Rise of Destination Marketing Through Movies and TV”, outlined the huge economic benefits of television and movie tourism advertising to local economies, stating how in 2012 Tourism Competitive Intelligence found that 40 million international tourists had chosen their destination primarily because they saw a film shot in that country. Up to 10 percent of tourists in the survey cite movies as a factor in deciding their destination.

Tourism in New Zealand boomed following the Lord of Rings trilogy. The country launched a huge marketing campaign aimed at making the country synonymous with “middle-earth,” Air New Zealand painted its livery with Hobbit-themed images, and Hobbiton became one of the country’s most visited attractions.

VisitBritain similarly integrated tourism marketing efforts with the Bond film Sky- fall, Virginia touted itself as the site of Lincoln’s filming, and North Carolina turned Hunger Games into an advertisement for its outdoors. Now destination marketing organizations are realizing the trend and looking to convert the international attention a destination can draw from a movie or TV series into travel bookings.

Shoma, a Travel Channel in the Making?

Shoma has been broadcasting provincial productions; but recent policies require the channel to move toward TV series and more coherent programs. ‘Suitcase’ will link what has hitherto been in the perview of independent productions and documentaries, and offering a corporate program.

Actual cooperation between ICHHTO and Shoma started in late February.  ICHHTO is aiming at preparing a variety of materials and programs.

The travel and tourism programs will be broadcast live under the title of ‘Shoma’, and will be on between 20:30 pm and 00:30 am. They will be repeated the following day at 8:30 am.

Initially, renowned figures like Esmaeel Azar, Hossein Moheb-Ahari, Reza Rafi, Masud Forutan, and Eqbal Vahedi will be hosting the program. As the program continues, provincial hosts will be identified and invited to the program, director of Shoma channel Mehdi Qasemi said.

“Suitcase” is only the beginning to Shoma network turning into a full-fledged travel and tourism channel, Qasemi said.

IRIB is covering all costs of the programs and is not charging ICHHTO; this was not the case in the past. However, ICHHTO is obliged to provide the channel with content, especially during the two-week Nowruz holiday season starting on March 20.