Developing Tourism for Job Creation

Developing Tourism for Job Creation Developing Tourism for Job Creation

The global travel industry’s ability to create jobs means, with the right planning, the sector can become a driving force for economic growth in Iran in the post-sanctions era, according to a senior government minister.

Speaking at a hotel management and tourism seminar on Qeshm Island on Wednesday, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabi’ee said research by his ministry has found that in many countries tourism and ICT are “the most important sectors in terms of job creation” and tourism’s share is 2.5 times greater than any other sector.

“Studies by the UN World Tourism Organization suggest tourism can help reduce unemployment by 50% by 2020 in developing nations,” he said. His ministry has been collaborating with the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to help develop the nascent industry in the provinces, travel news website Donyaye Safar reported.

The travel industry generated more than 103 million jobs directly in 2014, and is forecast to grow by 2% every year until 2024, accounting for more than 126 million jobs.

Directly and indirectly, the industry supported 277 million jobs in 2014 worldwide, accounting for 1 in 11 jobs.

According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the country’s unemployment rate is 10.9%.

The economy suffered severely as a result of years of crippling economic sanctions which eventually translated into a lack of demand caused by declining purchasing power.

However, the landmark nuclear deal signed last July between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), which imposes curbs on Tehran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions, will help Iran revive its economy.

“It’s an undeniable fact that tourism has played a key role in the growth rates of developing and developed nations alike, and it’s high time we took advantage of Iran’s untapped tourism potential,” the minister said.

  Postmodern Tourism

Characterizing tourism as a dynamic industry, Rabi’ee said tourism is “moving toward a postmodern era”, meaning that conventional attractions are losing their glamour to activities that have historically been done by a handful of people with special interests.

“Ecotourism, for example, is garnering a lot of attention, so we need to invest in the area and develop infrastructure,” the minister said.

There is a need to “gradually shift from constructing five-star hotels to setting up ecolodges and traditional houses” in and around villages and natural attractions.

Doing so will help create much-needed jobs for locals and help tourists learn more about indigenous customs and traditions. Rabi’ee said developing ecotourism and religious tourism must become a priority for authorities, given Iran’s potential in these areas.

It is important to identify sites of attraction and set up routes in every province that take tourists to various sites, from the scorching deserts to freezing mountains, which would help ensure they stay for more than week.

“We need to step up our game and start marketing tourism abroad on a much larger scale,” he said. While countries in the region regularly run TV ads on popular international channels such as CNN, Iran has yet to launch a marketing campaign at the global level.

In 2014, Iran hosted over 5 million tourists, bringing in $7.5 billion in revenue. The government has made known that it seeks to attract 20 million tourists a year by 2025.