Tourism in Sixth Plan

Tourism in Sixth PlanTourism in Sixth Plan

A special meeting was held by the tourism commission of Iran Chamber of Commerce. In the meeting, investment and planning deputy of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Saeed Shirkavand, members of the tourism commissions of the Majlis, and Iran Chamber of Commerce, and a number of business people reviewed the aims of the tourism industry in the sixth five-year Economic development plan, starting 2016, Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

According to Shirkavand, a number of important standards should be set in the 6th plan in favor of tourism, so that the industry can receive its annual share of the budget. “There appears to be a significant disorganization between government bodies after the introduction of investors; there should be a single point of reference where problems can be addressed.”

The 6th plan should include mechanisms to encourage tourism investors. One of the major problems in the tourism sector is a lack of sufficient professionals. Investors are usually retirees who now have enough time to invest in tourism. This makes the industry bank-oriented; thus it cannot even enter the Over-The-Counter (OTC) of Iran Fara Bourse. It would be a positive step if a new rule introduces tourism to the market.

Shirkavand’s other suggestion was to create a favorable working environment, including safeguarding investment as well as providing favorable mechanisms to initiate an enterprise. Airport security guards, hotel porters and investors alike should make a personal commitment to their working environment.

  Questionable Statistics

Head of the Majlis Tourism Commission Jabbar Kuchakinezhad emphasized the unique role of tourism in delivering Iran out of a single-product (oil) economy. “Like many other countries, we can bring in huge revenue from the tourism industry. This applies to both domestic and foreign tourism.”

“Precise and consistent planning requires data and statistics. But the only available statistics are those provided by ICHHTO, which are not reliable. Statistics from the Statistics Center of Iran can serve as a yardstick,” Kuchakinezhad said.

The government plays the lead role in development plans, Kuchakinezhad noted. The Majlis sets up an integration committee, including members of f the chamber of commerce. To highlight the place of tourism and cultural heritage in the plan, different views should be integrated before being transferred to the Majlis tourism commission.

  Investors’ Cold Feet

According to vice-president of Iran Chamber of Commerce Mohsen Jalalpur, the chamber’s main concern is to get out of the current stagnation and to create job opportunities. The chamber is less concerned about controlling inflation, because it is responsible to support corporations and production units.

“We reviewed different sectors and concluded that tourism is the least expensive means for leaving the stagnation behind.” Other sectors require heavy investment, involving challenges such as environmental issues and water shortage.

The barriers posed by government administrations and banks are the main reason why potential tourism investors get cold feet. To smooth their path, ICHHTO should take over the entire process for obtaining permits. This will save a lot of time and paperwork for investors.

On the other hand, as President Rouhani asserted, if the investor must go through 200 individuals before being able to receive a permit, potential for corruption is ripe.

“To realize the Vision 2025, a total of $2,000 billion investment is needed in tourism, while what we have in hand is only $50 billion. Of this figure, 80% goes toward current expenditures, and only 20% is left for development,” Jalalpur stressed. Thus, easing the permit process for the investors will help approach the outlook to a great extent.

The representative of private sectors suggested their solutions in turn. They suggested increasing the weekends to promote tourism, which also necessitates improving the infrastructure. They wanted tourism to achieve the ranking of 6th or 8th from 46th in investment priority. Other suggestions included granting free land to investors and long term loans with special conditions.

The suggestions were put to the representatives of the government and Majlis to be considered as part of the 6th development plan.