Master Tourism Plan Slated for March 2016

Master Tourism Plan Slated for March 2016
Master Tourism Plan Slated for March 2016

In line with Iran’s push to become a popular tourist destination, the country’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization has been working on a master tourism plan that is expected to be ready by March 2016.

The plan, which factors in the government’s policies and Iran’s tourism potential, contains details on how to make the best use of the country’s cultural, historical, natural and religious heritages, Mehr News Agency quoted the head of ICHHTO, Masoud Soltanifar, as saying.

“The plan, which will go into effect as part of the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21), outlines measures to help develop the key health tourism sector,” he added.

Soltanifar said a council comprising ICHHTO’s deputies, academics and representatives from NGOs and the private sector has been formed to oversee the implementation of the plan.

Once the plan is ready, it will be sent to the High Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Council for approval.

The vice president said the comprehensive plan will act as a blueprint for provincial departments to develop tourism infrastructure, noting that projects to develop the sector across the country are already underway.

Soltanifar urged experts in Iran and abroad to share their ideas with ICHHTO to help Iran realize its tourism potential.

Tourism development took a serious turn two years ago, when President Hassan Rouhani took office. The government’s foreign policy, aimed at shedding stereotypes propagated by the western media’s smear campaign, has helped draw more tourists to Iran.

  One of Many Measures

The tourism plan is the latest move by the Rouhani administration to improve Iran’s global profile.

Measures have been taken to promote Iran’s tourism potential abroad in the hopes of attracting more tourists, in line with the country’s 20-year plan, which envisages 20 million tourists annually by 2025, theoretically generating $30 billion in revenues.

ICHHTO has set up tourist information offices in eight countries and they plan on opening 17 more by the end of the current Iranian year (March 19, 2016). These offices are tasked with introducing Iran’s attractions to potential tourists and provide feedback to Iran’s tourism officials.

In order to target the right foreign market, the organization has compiled a list of 40 countries, ranked according to indices such as per capita income and level of economic and political ties with Iran.

The organization has also announced that it will support the private sector to participate in international exhibitions held in target countries.

In addition to facilitating visa issuance and visa waivers, setting up direct international flights to major cities, such as the Tehran-Athens flight that began on July 23, will help promote tourism.

Following the nuclear pact between Iran and the six world powers in Vienna on July 14, which will result in the lifting of sanctions, travel agencies in the western hemisphere began targeting Iran as an exotic tourist destination.

The UK and France eased travel advisories against Iran and their local media wrote articles on the Mideast nation’s tourism potential and its plethora of historical and natural attractions.

The UN World Tourism Organization predicts Iran will experience a 6.6-percent tourism growth in 2015 and the most recent tourism report by the World Economic Forum labeled Iran “the most affordable country to visit”.