TEHRAN – The tourism infrastructure of the country should be prepared for a potential tsunami [of travelers] thanks to the extensive vaccination against the coronavirus nationwide, an Iranian expert has said.
With the upcoming Iranian new year holidays, the hospitality industry will be faced with a surge and potential tsunami of tourism, ISNA quoted Ali Hemmati as saying on Wednesday.
The outbreak of coronavirus has created challenges in various fields over the last two years, but tourism has been most affected by the pandemic, the official noted.
Despite the most damage occurring in the tourism sector, less support has been offered, he mentioned.
Several segments of the economy, including the private sector, the hospitality industry, transportation, catering, restaurants, as well as historical, cultural, and tourism sites have suffered significant losses and are experiencing difficult times, he explained.
However, it is hoped that the country will experience tangible growth in tourism during the next Iranian calendar year 1401 (starts on March 21), he added.
Back in January, the deputy tourism minister Ali Darabi announced that Iran needs to get ready for a probable “tsunami of tourism” once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
“Despite not knowing how the coronavirus outbreak will evolve in the future, we ought to plan on hosting tourists during the upcoming holidays of Noruz (Iranian new year).”
Travel and tourism will increase as vaccination becomes a priority around the world and lifestyles align, the official added.
In January, an official with the tourism ministry announced that the Iranian tourism industry has suffered $233m losses due to COVID restrictions over the past two years.
“Travel is not believed to be the cause of the outbreak, rather it is a lack of adherence to health protocols that have caused the outbreak, but people canceled their trips anyway, causing major damage to the tourist facilities across the country,” he explained.
The tourism ministry is preparing safe and smart travel packages for Iranian holidaymakers and travelers during Noruz, he noted.
Nearly 70 percent of the population has been vaccinated, so these trips may be able to partially compensate for the damage done to tourism facilities over the past two years, he mentioned.
Last year the tourism ministry announced that the tourism of the country was growing before the coronavirus outbreak, its revenues reached $11.7 billion in 2019, which accounted for 2.8% of GDP, nearing the average share of tourism in the world GDP, which was 3.2 percent.
Iran was ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism based on data compiled by the World Tourism Organization.
Experts expect Iran to achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.
The Islamic Republic expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.