Tabriz Preparing to Become Islamic Capital

Around one million foreign tourists are expected to visit Tabriz in 2018
Tabriz was named the capital of Islamic tourism in 2018 during an OIC session in 2015. Tabriz was named the capital of Islamic tourism in 2018 during an OIC session in 2015.

Less than three months remains to 2018 when Tabriz assumes the mantle of Islamic tourism capital and the officials of East Azarbaijan Province say plans to prepare the city for the event are progressing well.

According to Morteza Abdar, the head of the provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, all museums, historical sites and tourist resorts have been monitored over the past year to ensure their convenience, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

The official also pointed to the increase in the city’s lodging facilities in the past two years. “Up until 2015, the hotel capacity of Tabriz was approximately 7,400 beds, but since the nomination, all measures have been taken by relevant organizations to increase the capacity to 16,000 beds,” he said, without elaborating on the current number of beds.

Besides hotels, guesthouses have also been standardized to offer good quality services to visitors of Tabriz in 2018.

“Given the importance of accommodation, our efforts are mainly directed at providing safe and suitable places for a pleasant stay,” he said.

Tabriz’s inbound tourism has already increased since its nomination and it is predicted to receive one million foreign visitors during 2018.

“Tourists are expected to arrive throughout the year and therefore there won’t be a challenge in terms of hotel occupancy,” Abdar said, hoping that up to 80% of lodging capacities will be occupied during the event.

About 7.7 trillion rials ($203 million) have been allocated by the government to 22 organizations for projects related to Tabriz 2018. Tabriz Municipality has also allotted around 2.6 trillion rials ($69 million) to the cause. Besides, related bodies have been tasked with earmarking 10% of their budget for the event.

A total of 108 urban tourism schemes have been envisioned and 130 cultural, scientific and sport events are to be held in Tabriz in 2018. Abdar stressed that besides efforts made by officials, public cooperation is essential to hold the event in the best possible way.

“Tabriz residents can help considerably by their friendly behavior, keeping the city clean and trading in a fair manner,” he said.  

On December 23, 2015, the final day of the three-day Ninth Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers in Niamey, Niger, tourism ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states approved the selection of Medina in Saudi Arabia and Tabriz as the capitals of Islamic tourism in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The title was given to the Turkish city of Konya in 2016.

As the capital of the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, Tabriz predates the Islamic conquest of Persia. It served as the capital city of a number of dynasties following the conquest. Tabriz hosts a number of famed religious sites, including Jame’ Mosque of Tabriz and Arg of Tabriz, and it boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Site, namely Tabriz Bazaar.

In September, Tabriz was declared a World Craft City by the World Craft Council which, along with Isfahan, makes it one of Iran’s only two cities to boast the title.

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