Int’l Tourism Experts Reflect on Iran

Int’l Tourism Experts  Reflect on IranInt’l Tourism Experts  Reflect on Iran

Isfahan recently hosted the Conference and International Festival of Intangible Cultural Cooperation (ICCN 2014), and welcomed several cultural ambassadors, Iran newspaper reported.

Many of the attendees were interviewed on the tourism potential and attractions of Iran in particular, and the strengths and weaknesses of the travel industry in general.

Among the interviewees were Floriana Coppola, mayoral representative and university professor of tourism and communication from Sicily, Italy who said: “When I read the memoirs of other foreigners traveling to Iran, which included nothing but positive comments, I was tempted to see the country myself. They all said how Iran is a safe travel place and now I have also witnessed this safety close up.”    

Interestingly, she continued, it is a well known cliché that Sicily is notorious for being home to the mafia. What most people do not know on the other hand is that Sicily houses five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. “I think the same can be said about Iran. The negative propaganda that clouds Iran’s integrity is largely false.  If we manage to maintain a non-biased, objective view it will not be difficult to see through the thread-bare, false accusations.”

If Iran wants to attract more tourists, asserted Coppola, the country needs to invest in tourism and hospitality education. More universities should offer comprehensive tourism courses. Specifically in order to train guides who can pass on the cultural heritage of the country using relatively simple language, which can easily be understood.

Isfahan is a historical city with a priceless heritage and the people are extremely amiable. “What I like most about Iran though is the traditional music,” mused the professor. “When I travel to different regions, I like to try the local food, listen to the music, and take in the marvels that the historical monuments present. I believe music is an international language and even if you don’t understand the words you can still connect. “The richness of Iran’s traditional music hasn’t failed to amaze me,” she added.

  Publicity Lacking

George Maros of Switzerland, says, “tourists tend to travel to destinations on which they can obtain enough information. In Iran I believe the main problem lies in insufficient advertising.”

This is the fifth time he is travelling to Iran.  “I have good friends here who invite me. I have travelled across Tehran, Yazd, Shiraz, and now Isfahan. The beauty of the Yazd deserts has captivated me and the historical monuments in Shiraz are nothing short of spectacular,” Maros said.

Out of all the marvels in Iran the exceptional splendor of the Imam Mosque in Isfahan and its dome stand out prominently, reflected the Swiss. It is a shame though that it is not being renovated. “I believe that renovation could help enhance and preserve its beauty,” he added.

Even here at the Abbasi Hotel, the paintings on the walls, the wood carvings, and every minute detail have had a mesmerizing effect “on me and my wife.”

Iran has plenty of potential.  “Isfahan my favorite town is completely unique. Shiraz and Yazd are also very effective in attracting tourists,” Maros said. With hosting more events like the ICCN Iran can further promote tourism and “I believe that wider advertising can be highly effective.” As an idea, ambassadors could be assigned to travel abroad in order to promote Iran’s rich culture, he said.

This is the first time, he said, that his wife has accompanied him on a journey to Iran. Before the trip she was a little worried about what to wear; friends sent us photos of appropriate clothing for Iran, and her worries were put to ease. “We realized how liberal the women can dress and I think it is necessary for everyone around the globe, potential tourists especially, to know that restrictions aren’t as strict as the media tries to portray,” Maros said. People need to gain insight on these matters.

  Peace Message

President Rouhani has sent a message of peace out to the world which has undoubtedly helped with the advancement of tourism. If all the sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted, the ideal conditions would be created for business in Iran. This in turn would also have a prolific effect on its tourism industry.

Dr. Klaus Gallas of Weimar, Germany, said “some Iranians say that I know Iran better than some of the natives. I have been an archeologist since 1970 and I have known Iran for more than 43 years. I have had the opportunity to travel around several cities and have also written a book about the country.” He added “In my family, in celebration of the culture, we even celebrate Nowruz on March 21 and Hafez Day on October 12,” said Gallas. Through some rigorous campaigning, “we have even managed to make UNESCO also acknowledge October 12 as Hafez Day.”

Iran resembles a peaceful island in the middle of an otherwise tumultuous Middle East. The other countries of the region should look for cultural models in Iran, he asserted. To further promote tourism, he added, tour leaders need to be certified to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and information to effectively lead foreign groups.