Shifting Focus, Boosting Income

Shifting Focus, Boosting IncomeShifting Focus, Boosting Income

Sooner or later, an oil-dependent economy will fail. The world’s oil reserves are depleting, with some experts claiming we have already passed peak oil production. Therefore, it stands to reason to begin moving away from oil and invest in industries that are longer-lasting and in some cases “greener” than the oil industry.

“An oil-dependent economy prevents the development of other industries,” said Saeed Shirkavand, deputy for investment and planning at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, on Monday at a conference attended by representatives of tourism organizations and hoteliers.

He singled out overreliance on oil exports and weak tourism planning as major obstacles preventing growth in the sector and called for a change in strategy, IRNA reported.

Pointing to the impressive growth of tourism in the past two years, Shirkavand said the number of foreign tourists has tripled, “but it is not yet satisfactory.”

“While the average global economic growth is reported to be between 2% and 5%, tourism has grown between 10% and 15%, which highlights the prosperous nature of the industry.”

He said tourism leads to prosperity and world peace, adding that establishing ties with other countries will have a significant impact on Iran’s tourism.

  Poor Infrastructure

Lamenting the lack of four- and five-star hotels in the country, Shirkavand said in the past 38 years, only two five-star hotels have been built in Tehran.

He said to meet the increasing demand that comes with the projected tourist influx, Iran needs to build more hotels as fast as possible.

“The government of President Hassan Rouhani has made development of tourism a priority, as evidenced by the emphasis on tourism in the president’s speeches since he was voted into office,” the official said.

  Safe and Secure

Pointing to the turmoil gripping the Middle East, Shirkavand said Iran’s high safety and security factor must be capitalized on to promote and boost tourism.

“The West’s smear campaign against Iran, which aimed to promote ‘Iranophobia’ and turn potential tourists and investors away, has failed completely,” he said, adding that foreign investors are eager to enter the Iranian market.

Shirkavand said ICHHTO is reviewing investment proposals submitted by foreign and domestic investors.

Iranian tourism authorities and foreign investors are eagerly awaiting the conclusion of negotiations between Iran and P5+1 and a potential nuclear agreement that could pave the way for foreign investment.

Iran’s Vision Plan (2005-25) targets 20 million tourists annually, which will lead to a $30-billion boost in revenues.