With Oil Prices Dipping, Can Tourism Be Iran's Saviour Ahead of US Sanctions?

Published September 27th, 2018 - 05:25 GMT
Iran, with such a rich history, is home to more than 1 million historical monuments, 34,000 nationally registered sites and 23 world heritage sites. (Shutterstock)
Iran, with such a rich history, is home to more than 1 million historical monuments, 34,000 nationally registered sites and 23 world heritage sites. (Shutterstock)

Speaking of Iranian history, the first thing that comes to the mind is Cultural Heritage. This social phenomenon is a heritage from far back in the past and can determine a nation’s history and civilization.

Iran, with such a rich history, is home to more than 1 million historical monuments, 34,000 nationally registered sites and 23 world heritage sites, which is an indicative of the greatness of this civilization and also ample investment opportunities in Iranian tourism industry.

By expanding its activities – including the development of tourism infrastructures – the Revival Fund for Cultural and Historic Sites can play a key role in promoting tourism.

This has been implemented in other countries throughout the world; for example, Paradores de Turismo Company in Spain has managed to revive about 90 historic sites and reap profit of 40 million Euros. These experiences show that it is important to step in this path and utilize the endless capacities of the Revival Fund.

Nowadays, tourism has been able to claim the third place among the most profitable industries and the industry is still making progress. International tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1.3 billion which can also be an expression of international solidarity. 

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While last year, more than 1.3 billion tourists have passed the international borders, international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 2 billion by 2050.

This year, we are going to celebrate the World Tourism Day when the U.S. sanctions has put us in a special economic condition. Meanwhile, Iranian oil exportation is facing many problems; so, in such a situation, tourism economy can be an appropriate substitution for oil-dependent economy.

By entrusting historic buildings to the private sector, the Revival Fund relies on the unique capacities of Iran and tries to revive and utilize these historic buildings to generate profit and consequently by developing tourism infrastructure, create sustainable employment opportunities, generate income, improve inflow of foreign currency and provide a remedy for the current economic conditions.

In order to upgrade the Revival Fund status the Iranian Parliament has passed a law, so that after ratification of the fund statute in the cabinet of ministers it will be operating as “the Fund for Development of Handicrafts, Persian Carpet and Revival of Historic Sites” and will continue its contributions.

There is no doubt that the realization of this goal will pave the way for the Revival Fund increased contributions in developing tourism infrastructures and create a great opportunity for entrepreneurship in order to step toward a dynamic economy in local communities.

Now, the members of staff at this institution are trying to achieve the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, under which the country is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals to 20 million.

This is possible by taking some important factors such as security, historic, natural and cultural capacities into consideration. Moreover the role of government in adopting policies which set the scene for tourism growth due to its high profitability and investment return is undeniable. Therefore, Iran can play a different role in tourism in the Middle East and become a hot spot and popular destination for tourists worldwide.

Activities such as the revival of historic and cultural buildings by holding various cultural events in these places is among the most effective initiatives taken by the Revival Fund this year within framework of long-term plans. By presenting the intangible heritage, food tourism and indigenous handicrafts of various cities around the country in the revived and entrusted buildings of the Fund, this plan managed to help handicraft artists, carpet-makers and other people who can benefit from this area present and introduce their art in order to preserve and flourish these invaluable heritages. 

Regarding the development of tourism infrastructures, currently 1,900 projects are under construction with an investment of more than 430 trillion rials (nearly $10 billion). It is estimated that at the end of the current administration, 1,250 projects will be completed. The share of the Revival Fund totaled at 1 trillion rials (nearly $24 million) for 70 projects for the first half of the year. However, it is planned to increase the investment levels by the end of the current year (March, 2018).

All these figures and statistics are indicative of the attempts to progress and develop tourism industry in Iran and we hope that in current conditions, Iran will experience a significant upgrade in tourism to meet the needs of the country and relieve the existing economic hardships.

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