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Revamping Iran Tourism with $117 Million
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Revamping Iran Tourism with $117 Million

The ICHHTO budget for acquisition of capital assets in the budget bill for the next Iranian year (starting March 21, 2015) will be in the region of $117 million, equivalent of over 3,000 billion rials, the director general of planning and budget at Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Masoud Nouri, said.
Speaking with the Persian daily Donya-e Eghtesad, Nouri pointed to a 39% rise compared to last year and said expenditure credits for next year have also seen a 14.9% increase.
The contribution of travel and tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) for the coming year has been estimated at $11.5 billion, the official said pointing to a report by the World Economic Forum in 2013.
Iran is among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of capacity for attracting tourists, the director of Iran’s cultural heritage and tourism organization, Masoud Soltanifar was quoted as saying.
However, the country has a meager share of $5-6 billion of the world’s $6500 billion tourism income in 2013, the official said.
Referring to the country’s historical, natural and cultural tourism attractions, Soltanifar said Iran has one percent of the world’s population and area, so the country is expected to earn $12 to $13 billion via tourism.
“International sanctions, restrictions and poor management, resulted in the country not being able to use its capacities in the tourism sector,” he complained.
Looking ahead, the number of tourists entering the country has been predicted to rise to 5.2 million. The forecast for the end of the current year is 5 million.
Stipulated in next year’s budget bill, the number of hotels should increase to 1110.
On the construction projects included in the bill, Nouri said from the total 32 projects, 5 relate to tourism, 24 to cultural heritage, and 1 each to handicrafts, implementation of the IT master plan, and to administration costs.
The cultural heritage official went on to detail the areas of the organization’s activities for the coming year as follows:

  Cultural Heritage:
- rehabilitation and restoration
- preservation and revival of historical sites and monuments
- examining and safeguarding the historical textures
- rehabilitation, safeguarding, and restoration of cultural, historical, and artistic objects and properties
- inscription of (historical, natural, and intangible heritage) elements on the national and world heritage lists.

  Handicrafts:
- preservation and revival of various handicrafts and traditional art-forms
- creating and developing markets for presentation and sale of handicrafts across the country
- expanding handicrafts export
- advertising and raising public awareness about handicrafts in urban and media spaces
- standardizing education and training in different fields and types of handicrafts

  Tourism:
- completing infrastructure in tourist hubs and exemplary tourism regions
- developing more road-side rest areas and tourist regions.
- aiding non-government agencies and the private sector with technical and funding support
- supervising and standardizing tourism services
- expanding religious tourism
- organizing campsites
- developing medical tourism village
- researching, identifying, and creating tourism infrastructure
Nouri emphasized that in order to make sites attractive for investment, potential tourism hubs need to be identified and the necessary infrastructures provided.
A budget has been set for development of the Caspian Sea coast in next year’s budget.  Plans to develop the Persian Gulf coasts will feature in the country’s Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2016 - 2021), and so the plan is not included in the 2015-16 budget, noted Nouri.
Donya-e Eghtesad analysts believe that based on budget estimates for tourism, the revenue from incoming tourists next year will be about $9 billion, with an average $1,500 per person.
For the same period, around $1.1 billion will be generated from about 102 million domestic tourists.
A comparison of the figures for inbound and outbound tourists indicates that the balance will remain negative even in the coming year. So for every 5.2 million tourists traveling to the country, Iran has 6.9 million outgoing tourists.
The spending by every Iranian tourist traveling abroad has been estimated at $1,500.
Therefore, all eyes are now on the Majlis to see what the outcome will be for tourism following the discussions and negotiations between the government and parliament. It is hoped that tourism will be given the status it deserves in the economic development of this nation of 80 million.

 

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