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January 2019, No. 90


Tourism

Full-Fledged Support for Iran Tourism


UNWTO chief said his organization will make every effort to introduce Iran as a safe destination for tourism and a peaceful and secure country to the world.


The United States has made every attempt to create financial constraints for Iran. President Trump says it has restored crippling sanctions against Iran; but to what extent do the Americans think Washington’s unilateral efforts to block and confine Iran are trustworthy?

Iran’s Hamedan city was host (Nov. 12-14) to the 40th Plenary Session of the UNWTO Affiliate Members and despite the US efforts to increase the wave of Iranophobia in the world and warn them against traveling to Iran, 80 UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) members flew to Iran concurrent with the imposition of new US oil sanctions against Tehran.

Ali Asghar Mounesan, Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHATO), says the arrival of every foreign tourist in Iran is equivalent to selling 30 barrels of oil.

The Iranian government has been trying over the past decade to shift revenues from oil money to tourism.

Holding the 40th Plenary Session of the UNWTO Affiliate Members in Hamedan (western Iran) which has been designated as the Capital of Asian Tourism is important because not only the participants in the session but domestic tourism experts consider the event as a sign of failure of US unilateral efforts aimed at isolating Iran and obstruct arrival of foreign tourists in Iran.

Speaking to the press on the sideline of the Hamedan confab, Mounesan said the presence of 80 UNWTO affiliate members from different countries in Iran is indicative of the defeat of Washington’s unilateral efforts in portraying a false and unrealistic image of Iran to the world. zurab pololikashvili

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, however, believes that the arrival of 5 million foreign tourists in Iran which has numerous amazing tourist attractions is very small. He said UNWTO will try to encourage more tourists to visit Iran, including Hamedan (which is one of the five main tourist destinations in the country with 1,800 tourist attractions). He said his organization will open a handicrafts office soon under the UNWTO umbrella and Iran can use the capacity of this office to promote tourism.

On the sidelines of the confab, the UNWTO chief was asked by reporters if the Hamedan event could help reduce the wave of Iranophobia devised by the US and certain neighboring countries. He replied by saying: “Hardships will help us become stronger. Now we are here to help Iran become stronger in the tourism sector.”

He said his organization will make every effort to introduce Iran as a safe destination for tourism and a peaceful and secure country to the world. He also responded to another question that unilateral and hostile US sanctions against Iran may prompt foreign tourists to have second thoughts about traveling to Iran, and what measures would the UNWTO take to prevent measures that could restrict arrival of tourists in Iran. “It’s hard to answer this question. The United States is not a member of the UNWTO and we cannot have a direct impact on the country. But as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, I will do my utmost to help Iran. I am convinced that the problem of tourism in Iran will be resolved in the long run.”

Concerning a question on communicating Iran’s message in his meetings with heads of state and tourism activists, he emphasized: “If my words can be effective, I assure you I will talk about Iran and all its tourist attractions.” He called Iran one of the most important members of the organization, saying: “Our ambition is that the visa problem will be solved not only for Iran but for the entire world, because it is one of the oldest problems in the way of tourism. We know that the visa issue has not been eliminated because of the security complications of the countries, but I hope that by facilitating the visa processing and even lifting it in the world and even Iran, a large number of foreign tourists will travel to Iran.”

According to the UNWTO secretary-general, presentation of a negative image of Iran and US made Iranophobia has been a challenge that will be overcome in the long run and tourism industry will reach a point of peace and quiet. “Many tourists traveling to Iran tell their friends and people that Iran is a safe country for travel, and Iran will come out of this challenge proudly,” he added.

In the framework of the Plenary Session, the UNWTO and ICHHATO co-hosted the International Seminar on Harnessing Cultural Tourism through Innovation and Technology. The main aim of the seminar was to address the role of innovation and technology in the development of cultural tourism and in enhancing destinations’ competitiveness and attractiveness. Technology and innovation, including information and communication technology (ICT), serve as enablers of the sustainable development of cultural tourism whereby improving governance, enhancing profitability, and competitiveness along with preserving intangible and tangible cultural resources.

In this regard, the seminar provided a platform to further discuss these important topics through panel debates and the sharing of good practices. Additionally, it explored the fundamental contribution of innovation to fostering cultural tourism in Iran – a country endowed with rich cultural heritage and legacy of the remarkable Persian civilization.

 

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  January 2019
No. 90