Looking For New Tourism Markets

Looking For  New Tourism MarketsLooking For  New Tourism Markets

For some time now Iran has been a favorite tourism destination for European and American tourists who are mostly interested in Iran’s history, art and culture. Pilgrims travelling to Iran from nearby countries to visit religious shrines also constitute a portion of Iran’s tourism market. But now the authorities are looking for ways of opening the tourism market to more countries. Recent MoU’s between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and countries such as China and South Korea are a part of the authorities’ move to expand tourism with these countries.

China, with more than 100 million out-bound tourists per year, is a top priority market for Iran’s tourism industry. According to the head of Iranian Tour Operators Association, Ebrahim Pourfaraj, Iran currently ranks as the 111th tourism destination for Chinese travelers. With the recent MoU signed between the two countries to increase tourism activities, Iran is hoping to attract more Chinese tourists in future, Persian daily Donya-e- Eghtesad reported.

Russia is another country identified by the tour operators association as a suitable tourism market for Iran. Citing short distance between Iran and Russia and normal relations between the two countries, Pourfaraj said discussions are underway for boosting tourism relations. Referring to the recent sanctions imposed on Russia, he noted that even the economic issues had not deterred well-off Russian tourists from “spending lavishly in neighboring countries such as Turkey.”

  Adding India to the List

The tour operators are also showing interest in India which they believe has huge tourism potentials considering its large population, said Pourfaraj, adding that “not enough has been done to use this potential in the past, but we are now adding India to the list of countries such as China and Russia which we intend to increase tourism activities with.”

The procedure to identify suitable target markets for tourism activities require special teams to study the countries from various aspects such as culture, population, financial power and the tourism regulations, with occasional field studies in the target countries, Pourfaraj noted.

Pointing out that most foreigners traveling to Iran are cultural tourists who wish to see maximum attractions at minimum cost, Pourfaraj said attracting luxury travelers who would bring more money to the country requires better infrastructure and more entertaining programs. He pointed that even the most tourist-friendly cities of Iran do not have night entertainment programs such as restaurants with live music, “so the tourists must retire to their beds early with nothing to do before the next morning.”

Pourfaraj also suggested nature tours as suitable alternative to heritage and cultural tours which would help familiarize the tourists with less discovered beauties of Iran. “Out of the 500 hikers who climbed Damavand peak this summer, 900 were foreigners,” he informed.

Noting that sport events including 6 rallies and a bicycle race organized by the Iranian tour operators association in the summer were warmly welcomed by tourists, he called for the authorities to ease the procedure to obtain permits for such events.