Loans for Developing Remote Destinations

Loans for Developing Remote DestinationsLoans for Developing Remote Destinations

In line with the country’s self-declared goal of attracting 20 million tourists a year by 2025, the National Development Fund of Iran will provide around 1.8 trillion rials ($52 million) in the form of affordable loans to help develop infrastructure in far-flung destinations, most of which have long suffered from  disrepair and underdeveloped infrastructure.

Speaking at a meeting to identify and address challenges facing the development of tourism in Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad Province on Thursday, Seyyed Muhammad Hosseini, the acting chairman of the fund, said the loans are mainly targeted at projects that help increase a region’s capacity to host travelers, i.e. constructing lodging facilities. The interest rate will be 10%.

“One of our main objectives is to help lift the underdeveloped regions and create job opportunities,” Hosseini said, according to ISNA.

The meeting was held in the provincial capital Yasouj.

In addition to helping Iran get closer to meeting its ambitious goal of drawing 20 million tourists a year in less than 10 years, developing infrastructure in remote locations could also help improve the chances of the recently proposed subsidized travel scheme becoming a success.

Earlier this month, Iran’s tourism chief Masoud Soltanifar announced plans to subsidize travel to under-the-radar destinations, in a bid to expand domestic travel. Based on what little is known, the scheme aims to subsidize tours offered by select tour operators and make local travel affordable and encourage people to travel off the beaten track.

However, critics say the plan is doomed because remote destinations all suffer from a lack of sufficient facilities, namely hotels, decent guesthouses and recreational centers.

Iran’s top holiday destinations, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Kish and Qeshm, all suffer from the lack of proper tourism facilities. Observers rightly point out that if popular destinations of international fame are unable to keep pace with the growing demand, there is little doubt that the remote regions and destinations will have a more difficult task coping with an influx of tourists.

The plan might encourage many to travel to distant locations, but they are unlikely to enjoy the trip given the endemic lack of infrastructure in those places.

Critics of the plan also say that the funds allocated to the scheme should be used to help develop infrastructure and offer loans to investors to finance projects; exactly what the NDF is now planning to do.

By developing infrastructure people’s travel options will also grow as there will be more destinations available. Some even say this will help reduce the cost of travel, as the inevitable competition between destinations to get a bigger share of the tourism pie will result in competitive prices and improve service quality.