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Halal Tourism Potential Untapped in Iran

Iran possesses the infrastructure to attract a large number of halal tourists but needs better marketing across the world
Halal tourism is geared toward Muslim families who abide by Islamic rules.Halal tourism is geared toward Muslim families who abide by Islamic rules.
Halal products' annual turnover in the world reaches $1.5 trillion

Iran has embraced the principles of halal tourism for decades, but the country's key advantage has failed to gain global recognition due to lack of promotion.

Halal tourism is geared toward Muslim families who abide by Islamic rules and offer amenities and products such as gender-demarcated facilities, including washrooms, swimming pools and prayer halls with direction marked for offering prayers, as well as halal-certified food free from pork and alcohol.

The sector has only been defined as a distinct brand of tourism in the recent past while Iran has a long history of offering halal tourist services, IRNA reported.

Nevertheless, other Muslim countries such a Malaysia and Turkey have apparently overtaken Iran in this regard.  

Experts believe the sector offers a golden opportunity for investors, as the country already possesses the infrastructure to attract a large number of tourists and only needs better marketing across the world.

Mohammad Qanei, the head of Khorasan Razavi Hoteliers Association, said given the huge capacities of the country, Iran must make efforts to develop the model as soon as possible.

"All Iranian hotels offer halal services and food. It is an exceptional quality that has to be publicized," he said.

  Mashhad a Halal Tourism Hub

Among all Iranian cities, Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi Province, which is home to the shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Shia Imam, is a dazzling emblem of the emerging tourism trend.

Governor General of Khorasan Razavi Alireza Rashidian pointed to the province's undeniable capacities that need to be organized, improved and promoted.

"Halal-certified products, along with appropriate lodging infrastructure, food quality and religious, historical and cultural attractions, have made the province Iran's perfect hub for this form of tourism," he said.

Halal branding, according to Rashidian, is a key feature in the food market, especially for Khorasan Razavi, which is nationally and globally known for its exceptional gastronomy.

Deputy Governor General of Khorasan Razavi Javad Hosseini also stressed the importance of Islamic food in the development of halal tourism.

"Halal products' annual turnover in the world reaches $1.5 trillion. While the products are mainly aimed at Muslims, 80% of them are produced in western countries that host the smallest Muslim populations," he said.

"By expanding the production of halal food and developing their domestic sale to tourists along with their exports, Iran can increase its share of the global market."

Mohammad Rahim Rahnama, the head of the provincial office of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, asserted that Iran's tourism is inherently halal, as many of the standards of halal tourism are already applied.

"Mashhad is Iran's premier tourism hub, as almost half of the country's tourists chooses the metropolis as their destination," he said.

Mashhad hosted 5.2 million foreign tourists in the last fiscal year (ended March 20), a majority of whom were Muslims.

Iraq was the leading source of tourists with 1.4 million travelers while Azerbaijan Republic ranked second with 1 million visitors. Over the first five months of the current Iranian year, over 580,000 foreigners visited the city with a 6.1% increase compared with the same period of last year.

The motto "Halal Tourism, an Iranian Capacity" has now been adopted by tourism authorities as a means of boosting the sector.

"The only way to establish Iran as an ideal destination for halal tourism is to widely advertise it and introduce it to the target population," Rahnama said.

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