Iran to step up efforts to attract Muslim tourists
Iran is keen to develop its tourism industry, and is preparing to switch its efforts to attract visitors from other Islamic countries, the country's top tourism official said Monday.
The world "has had a negative attitude towards Iran for a very long time, ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979," which has gravely damaged the tourist industry, Deputy Culture Minister in charge of tourism Mohammad Moezeddin told a press conference.
"To remedy this, we have no choice but to modify our policy," he said, adding that that the development of tourism should "take into account the cultural concerns of the religious leaders" of Iran.
"Until now our religious leaders have had a distorted idea about tourism, and their concern was that tourism means depravity and that is why they favour tourism between Islamic countries," he said.
Moezzedin announced that tourism ministers of the member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) would meet in the central city of Isfahan, regarded as one of Iran's prime tourist attractions, on October 3 and 4, to relaunch "inter-Islamic tourism."
He said that among the decisions the ministers would take, would be measures to make it easier for OIC nationals to obtain visas to visit each other's countries.
"We shall also discuss a proposal by the member countries to establish a joint hotel chain in the Islamic countries with private capital and aid from the Islamic Development Bank," he said.
He added that he wanted to use the experience of "important tourist countries like France and Italy."
Western tourism experts regard Iran's hotels as being seriously under-developed, despite recent efforts by the government of reformist President Mohammad Khatami to encourage tourism as a potential money spinner.
The industry currently brings in about 300 million dollars annually, from visitors keen to see such cultural treasures as Isfahan and Shiraz, and the ruins of the ancient capital of Persepolis. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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