Mayors of Model Tourist Cities, ICHHTO Pooling Minds

Mayors of Model Tourist  Cities, ICHHTO Pooling MindsMayors of Model Tourist  Cities, ICHHTO Pooling Minds

Budgetary allocations for the study of exemplary tourist cities have been made, CHTN quoted investment and planning deputy of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Saeed Shirkavand as saying in the 2nd meeting of the mayors of exemplary tourist cities.

An amount of $18,565 has been set for small exemplary tourist towns, $22,278 for midsized cities, and $25,991 for large cities. Shirkavand admitted that the sums are not considerable, but they should suffice.  

Eleven cities in all were chosen as such models. Shirkavand expressed regret that the exemplary tourist cities have not made much difference in comparison to other cities of the country, whereas they should pioneer and pave the road for other cities to follow.

Shirkavand reminded the mayors of the exemplary tourist cities that the private sector investors should be readily supported in establishing tourist facilities. He asked the city mayors to pay such tourist projects special attention, and urged them to accelerate legal, administrative, and procedural prerequisites for the projects.

This is an opportunity for the mayors to promote their chosen city both socially and economically, Shirkavand said and promised to pass efficient rules in favor of the exemplary tourist cities in the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan, starting 2016.

Within 3 years, a comprehensive plan for exemplary tourist regions should be devised, Shirkavand said. “We should have an understanding of what is planned for each region.” He believes the previous government allocated the ‘exemplary tourist region’ title too liberally; some chosen regions are unjustified and should be reconsidered.

First, between 11 to 13 tourist regions will be earmarked as pilots. Other regions will be included in the executive plan. As for investment in Ashuradeh Island, Mazandaran Province, regional studies were conducted in 2002, and the lands were passed to investors in 2005; but local disputes hindered the project until the current government reopened the case, he explained.

  Arab Arrivals

Approximately 500 to 1,000 tourists from Arab countries visit Neyshabur each day, due to its proximity to the pilgrimage city of Mashhad; however, Neyshabur lacks a comprehensive tourist plan. Some measures were taken, but no specific result has been obtained, according to the mayor of Neyshabur, Khorasan Razavi Province Mohammad Hassan Zarandi.

Neyshabur’s municipality has some cultural and touristic programs in hand, and hopes to realize them under the auspices of ICHHTO, Zarandi added.

There are about 500 historical monuments in the city, many of which date back to over 1,000 years ago. Some of them are unknown even to Iranian citizens, according to the governor of Abarkuh, Yazd Province, Seyed Nabi Rasuli.

Though Abarkuh has been dubbed an exemplary tourist city for 10 years, no serious measure was taken in this regard. “We hope Abarkuh’s tourism will flourish under the government of prudence and hope,” Rasuli added and reminded that Abarkuh has been granted a small budget, which is hoped to be increased.

Rasuli mentioned the famous cypress of Abarkuh (Persian: Sarv-Abarkuh). At 4,500 years age, such a symbol of resilience can attract many eco-tourists, he noted.

Ramsar will host the 3rd Special Meeting of Mayors of Exemplary Tourist Cities, Nasrollah Kuzegar, mayor of Ramsar, another exemplary tourist city of Mazandaran said, adding such meetings are quite constructive. “After the first meeting, we noticed the necessity to move towards developmental measures. Ramsar’s municipality supports investments on tourism and we intend to maintain the touristic popularity of the city which was visited by 50,000 foreign tourists this year. Ramsar has enough potential to become an exemplary tourist city. We welcome and support investors of tourism. We will also facilitate execution of their projects. The assistance we render will cost them nothing.”

 Risk Factor

Seyed Mohammad Nazem Razavi, mayor of Kashan, Isfahan Province, said municipalities have no choice but to deal with tourist issues and cultural heritage preservation. If Kashan’s municipality ignores the two areas of activity, the historical monuments of the city will be at risk of damage and destruction threats.

There are many private investors willing to enter the tourism sector, Razavi noted. But such investments require a few prerequisites such as government facilities and tax exemption.

Governor Mahmud Zare’ said the city of his responsibility Taft, Yazd Province, this year, saw 50,000 people participating in ceremonies of Muharram and Safar, the sacred months of Islamic lunar calendar.

Zare’ called Taft a religious tourist district, visited by many who participate in the Palm Bearing ritual (Persian Nakhl-Gardani). This year, 400 foreign tourists joined in and visited Taft. He also mentioned the beautiful gardens of the city, another potential tourist attraction. He requested ICHHTO to dispatch an expert team to Taft to identify and assess the tourist capacities of the city.