Deal to Boost Marine Tourism

The signing of the agreement by five ministries and the heads of 12 relevant organizations will be the single biggest step taken in years to tap into marine tourism potentials
Deal to Boost Marine TourismDeal to Boost Marine Tourism

To rally full-scale support from government officials to develop marine tourism, Iran's tourism authority has drafted an agreement to be signed by five ministries and the heads of 12 relevant organizations.

This was announced by Seyyed Kazem Kholdinasab, director of Tourism Planning and Development Office at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

The agreement is slated to be signed during the First Marine Tourism Conference in Asalouyeh, Bushehr Province, on December 13-14.

The official, however, did not say which ministries and organizations will sign the agreement, Mana reported.

The signing of the agreement, devised to jumpstart the development of the moribund marine tourism sector, will be the single biggest step taken in years to tap into the potential of the sector.

Kholdinasab said the development of marine tourism will significantly contribute to Iran's goal of attracting 20 million tourists a year by 2025, which could net the country more than $25 billion in revenues.

Last year, Iran hosted 5.2 million visitors and earned approximately $7.5 billion.

"Executing plans on developing and expanding key infrastructure in Iran's coastal regions can help us become a sought-after destination, especially for Muslim tourists from the Persian Gulf littoral countries," he said.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development show that the number of marine travelers has been rising in the past few years.

Over 7.2 million sea passengers used the county’s ports in the first four months of the current Iranian year (started March 20), which shows a 1.6% increase compared with the same period of last year.

The launch of a marine route between Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf and Oman is an example of effective measures taken so far by officials to develop marine tourism in the south.

While several plans have been put forward over tourism development of Caspian Sea in the north, experts believe that the potential of southern seas, namely the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, is overlooked.

  DOE Support Crucial

The Department of Environment's involvement is crucial for the success of any marine tourism scheme, given the sector's propensity for environmental destruction.

Aware of the need to develop marine tourism, the DOE announced plans to publish brochures introducing the ecological features of Persian Gulf islands to promote tourism in the southern islands.

The Persian Gulf is home to many islands, mostly small, spread across the entire geographic area. Iran administers 32 islands in the Persian Gulf.

According to environment officials, introducing the islands’ ecological features in an easy-to-read and accessible manner will help draw tourists to the islands and encourage investors to finance tourism projects there.

The largest island in the region is Qeshm, which is part of the Iranian province of Hormozgan, and nearly twice the size of Bahrain, the tiny island state.

Qeshm is a treasure trove of natural and ecological attractions. Aside from the geopark, sun and sandy beaches, the island’s famed mangrove forests in the Hara Protected Area, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, attracts tourists in droves.

Located 228 kilometers to the west of Qeshm is Kish Island, one of Iran’s most popular destinations that attracts domestic and foreign tourists in large numbers every year. The Island’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism. However, underdeveloped infrastructure has prevented the island from realizing its full potential.

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