Tourism Holds the Key to Polishing Tehran’s Image

Appreciation of Tehran’s ability to host travelers can help reveal the beauties of the province obscured by the urban nuisances of the capital
Tehran can change from merely a tourist source market to a popular destination.Tehran can change from merely a tourist source market to a popular destination.
Tehran Province has the capability to progress in the fields of historical, MICE, religious and health tourism

Tehran’s name is associated with urban and environmental issues such as pollution and traffic congestion that have overshadowed its cultural capacities, but officials believe that the tourism industry offers an opportunity to improve the image of the metropolitan area. 

The province is chiefly known as a source market rather than a destination while it enjoys vast potential to draw tourists for various purposes.  To organize plans aimed at the development of the industry, officials have identified and prioritized major areas in which the capital and its surrounding counties can serve tourists. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Delavar Bozorgnia, head of provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, elaborated on the four key sectors of tourism in Tehran Province to invest in, ISNA reported. 

  Culture and MICE

“Cultural and historical attractions can encourage a significant number of travelers to choose to visit the province, although its heritage has not been effectively publicized,” he said. There are a good number of historical buildings and neighborhoods as well as museums in Tehran to welcome cultural tourists. Another potential area, according to the official, is MICE tourism, especially given Tehran’s status as the capital. 

MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions and is used to describe a type of tourism in which large groups, usually planned in advance, are brought together for a particular purpose.

The components clearly signify their purpose, except perhaps for incentives, which is a type of trip offered by a company or institution as a reward for its employees. 

Bozorgnia referred to Fajr Film Festival, the country’s grand artistic event, as an example of Tehran’s capacity to host MICE tourists.

Comparing it to Cannes Film Festival in France, the official said, “Each year, many people go to Cannes to attend the festival while visiting the city’s attractions, but we have not used this chance well.” 

  Pilgrimage and Health 

Tehran Province is also home to the popular shrine of Shah Abdol Azim, a descendant of Imam Hassan (PBUH), Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) eldest grandson. 

Located in Rey County in the south of the province, the shrine hosts some eight million pilgrims each year, according to Bozorgnia. 

This is more than half the number of visitors to the Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, with an annual 15 million travelers. 

“With careful planning for this population, we can gain great benefit from this feature,” he said. The last but not the least key quality of Tehran as a destination is health tourism.

With its well-equipped specialist hospitals, the capital already attracts patients from across the country seeking effective treatment that is sometimes only offered in Tehran. But a more ambitious goal is to serve foreign patients. 

“New hospitals are designed to admit international patients. I believe we can gain favorable results from this sector by using qualified human resources,” Bozorgnia said. 

The four priorities do not prevent officials from eyeing other areas. Ecotourism, for instance, is a potential domain that has remained untapped, but is beginning to draw attention.

By the end of the last Iranian year (March 20), only one permit was issued for an ecolodge in Tehran’s rural districts. 

But the business has gained traction with 46 requests filed and eight licenses granted. 

“The launch of 100 ecolodges in Tehran is on the agenda,” Bozorgnia said. 

The official also mentioned a scheme to hold a Tehran festival on the theme of old Tehran as well as plans to add 700 beds to the city’s accommodation capacity. 

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