Iran to join China tourism protocol

Iran to join China tourism protocol
Iran to join China tourism protocol

Emergence of China as a fast growing global economy has generated a tourism boom in the country. With the rise of personal incomes and living standards, China’s outbound tourism market has grown leaps and bounds. China has become one of the world’s most-watched and hottest inbound and outbound tourist markets.

Research shows that by 2015, emerging economies such as China will surpass advanced countries in the number of inbound tourists. Tourist arrivals to emerging economies are expected to constitute 57% of the tourism market share by 2030. Interestingly, the emerging economies are also the largest contributors to the number of outbound tourists. The popular tourist destinations such as France, England, Turkey and African countries are looking for ways to charm the Chinese travelers by easing visa regulations and offering free hotel stays.

In light of above facts, Deputy of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Morteza Rahmani Movahed has announced two plans drafted by the organization aimed at expanding tourism activities between Iran and China. Quantitative planning for these plans will begin in 2016, Donya-e-Eghtesad newspaper reported.

“China has around 100 million annual outbound tourists. Iran’s goal is to attract at least 5% of this number i.e. 5 million Chinese travelers annually. The Silk Road revival project could help to expand relations between Iran and China and serve as a reminder of ancient ties between the two countries “, Movahed said.

  Iran-China Chamber of Commerce

Iran-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also taken initiatives to lure Chinese travelers to the country, having reached agreements to join China tourism protocol this year (March 22, 2013- March 21, 2014). The Protocol provides for a closer cooperation on tourism between Iran and China, informed Assadollah Asgaroladi, chairman of Iran-China Chamber of Commerce.

Asgaroladi also announced establishment of a joint sub-committee between ICHHTO and the Chamber to look into the activities intended for expanding tourism ties with China.

  Easing Visa formalities

As the first step, Asgaroladi mentioned eased visa formalities for Chinese travelers, saying the visa processing time in four active Iranian consulates China has been brought down to only 4 to 48 hours. In addition, efforts are being made to consult with the ministry of foreign affairs to eliminate visa requirement for Chinese travelers staying in Iran for a short period of 72 hours up to 5 days, says Asgaroladi.

Apart from lifting administrative obstacles for easy entry of Chinese travelers to the country, The Chamber has also undertaken marketing efforts to introduce Iran’s tourism attractions as well as exportable commodities such as handicraft and food items to China, Asgaroladi informed.

“In the coming week (starting November 15), three teams from Iran-China Chamber of Commerce will be traveling to China for a ten day tour aimed at identifying the market demands in various cities and offering counseling in this regard”, said Asgaroladi.

  Insufficient infrastructure    

“Iran lacks the proper infrastructure required to survive in the highly competitive tourism market”, Asgaroladi lamented. “Even if we succeed in attracting the targeted 5 million Chinese tourists by next year, we would not have sufficient hotels of international standard to accommodate the travelers nor do we have enough number of trained Chinese tour guides.”

According to the Chamber’s chairman, “Iran has an edge because of its natural, historical and cultural attractions” which could draw visitors from other countries, but to sustain the trend and encourage the tourists to revisit, “fundamental reforms are required with cooperation from public and private sectors.”

Some basic needs of Chinese tourists were earlier conveyed to the ICHHTO authorities through Iranian ambassador in China. Fulfillment of the modest demands such as Chinese language brochures and tour guides could be a positive and low cost step towards alleviating the troubles faced by the Chinese tourists in Iran.