The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

January 2019, No. 90


Tourism Would Not Go under Sanctions

The number of health tourists had doubled. Mounesan said 80 percent of health tourists turn out to become recreational tourists after treatment.”

Vice President and Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHATO), Ali Asghar Mounesan reported a 51% increase in the number of incoming tourists. He also spoke of European tourists resuming travels to Iran after the Ahvaz terrorist incident. According to Mounesan, after the renewed sanctions against Iran, the increase in foreign currency fluctuations and the terrorist attacks in Ahvaz (in southern Iran), the travel of European tourists to Iran dropped by 19%. The reaction in the opinion of the VP was natural. “The Ahvaz terrorist incident sent Iran on air for 24 hours. On the other hand, forex fluctuations also led to transmission of an unrealistic message.”

According to him, some measures were taken by Iran which reduced, to some extent, the negative impacts of the anti-Iran news. This reduced the number of incoming tourists from 19% to 17%. He also said the political propaganda about the arrival of Iraqi tourists did not negatively affect the number of Arab tourists entering the country from the western borders, and announced an increase in the number. According to Mounesan, a new wave of Arab tourists will arrive in Iran after the lunar month of Safar. These tourists, including the Iraqis will go to Tehran for treatment, and then will head to the north after undergoing medical treatment. They will then travel to Ardebil and Tabriz and eventually return to border provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdestan. He also reported a 79 percent increase in the number of Saudi tourists.

Louvre Objects on Display in Iran: A Show of Security

Mounesan says display of 56 historic objects from the Louvre Museum at the National Museum of Iran has neutralized America’s attempt to portray Iran insecure. He added that holding “Iran, the Cradle of Civilization” Exhibition in the Netherlands, paved the way for diplomacy through culture. “The Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands says that after a long period of time, he had been able to gather foreign ambassadors together for the purpose of displaying 196 Iranian historical objects in the Netherlands,” Mounesan said.

The vice president believes that, alongside the oil economy, a new economy could be created in the country through tourism industry. “We are currently faced with drought and water shortage in the agricultural sector. So we cannot develop this sector too much… The most we can do now is to increase our efficiency. The industry sector too faces more or less the same problems; but tourism is a sector which can bring us money easily as an inherent advantage of our land.”

Flight from Oman to Iran Increases

Based on global statistics, Mounesan said Iran ranked 10th in terms of tourism potentials. On his organization’s efforts to promote tourism, he noted: “In the first 6 months of the (Persian calendar) year and due to foreign currency fluctuations, we have visa waiver for certain countries on the agenda. For example, we have unilaterally lifted the visa for Omanis to visit Iran. Of course, this is a tough job because mutual action is one of the principles of the Foreign Ministry. But the move increased the number of tourists and the number of weekly flights jumped from two to nine flights.”

Mounesan said efforts were underway to lift the visa for Chinese tourists. “China has 121 million outbound tourists, and the figure is remarkable in the world,” he said, praising the 51 percent rise in tourist arrivals as “unprecedented”. He noted: “In the past years, our growth has been three to four percent, in 1396 (2017/18) for instance, we finished the year with a growth of 4%.”

He described the presence of Iraqi tourists as very valuable, and reported an increase in the arrival of tourists from Russia and Saudi Arabia. He said there was a rise of 79 percent in the number of Saudi tourists, noting: “After the attack on the Saudi embassy, ​​we saw 80 percent decline in the presence of Saudi tourists in Iran, but this year, the number has increased. There were also an increase in the number of tourists from Turkey and Azerbaijan.”

Quoting hospital sources, the VP said the number of health tourists had doubled. He said 80 percent of health tourists turn out to become recreational tourists after treatment.”

He said Tehran, Ardebil, Tabriz, Kermanshah, and Kurdestan are the provinces where health tourists would like to visit. He referred to these tourists as “mixed tourists” and said health tourism is at the highest economic level of tourism. “If a European tourist brings in $1,200 in hard currency, a health tourist would bring $2,500.”


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  January 2019
No. 90