Overhauling Holidays Tops ICHHTO Agenda

Overhauling Holidays Tops ICHHTO AgendaOverhauling Holidays Tops ICHHTO Agenda

Iran’s foremost tourism authority has tasked the Headquarters for Coordination of Travel Services with devising and implementing changes in the current holiday structure to spread travel across the year.

Following the mayhem caused during the recent holidays (July 6-8) after the two-week Iranian New Year vacation (March 20–April 1), Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization announced on Wednesday that the headquarters will get to work on a scheme to revamp the country’s holiday structure to prevent traffic congestions and road rage.

During the long weekend, which is not a staple fixture as the two-day-long Eid al-Fitr holidays are based on a lunar calendar that may not be always followed by the weekend Friday holiday, more than 10 million people traveled to various parts of the country.

Of course, for most it was not much of a holiday, as the vast majority of the 3.1 million people who opted to travel to Mazandaran Province spent up to 24 hours traveling there and back, literally wasting a third of their vacation stuck in heavy traffic on the scenic Karaj-Chalous Road.

“Our analyses of recent travel trends have compelled us to work toward distributing travel [across the year and the country],” Morteza Rahmani Movahed, deputy for tourism at ICHHTO, was quoted as saying by the organization’s news website.

  Revising Weekend Structure

The analyses also pointed to a severe lack of facilities and infrastructure in various destinations, which contributes to the influx of tourists to specific, relatively well-equipped locations.

“That is why promoting investment opportunities in less-popular destinations is also on the agenda,” Movahed said.

One of the key tasks of the organization is to push the government and Majlis for a revised weekend structure. Tourism officials, including ICHHTO chief and vice president, Masoud Soltanifar, and key players in the sectors have long call on lawmakers to approve a bill that aims to establish two-day weekends, but the bill has been rejected 11 times in the past three years.

Supporters of two-day weekends have proposed designating Friday and Saturday as weekend to address the problem.

To sweeten the pot for lawmakers, proponents of the scheme have suggested reducing Norouz holidays to a week, down from 14 days, which has been met with approval from netizens on social media.

With the ICHHTO now apparently ready to lobby for restructured weekends, supporters of the scheme might allow themselves to be cautiously optimistic.