Iranian hotels ready to welcome foreign tourists
Iranian hotels are ready to receive foreign tourists as the issuance of tourist visas and the flow of foreign tourists from land and air borders will be resumed this month.
Ninety percent of the hotel staff have been vaccinated against the coronavirus so far, so the hotels are ready to welcome foreign tourists, observing strict health protocols, the head of the Association of Iranian Hoteliers has announced. To ease the travel process, individual foreign tourists could confirm the reservations of accommodation centers at the border, CHTN quoted Jamshid Hamzehzadeh as saying on Monday. The destinations of foreign tourists in Iran are to specific cities such as Mashhad, Qom, Tabriz, Shiraz, Yazd, and Isfahan, and to return to the figure of over eight million incoming tourists before the outbreak of the coronavirus, serious planning is required, the official added. Iraqi tourists will flood the country once the borders open, but attracting tourists from Europe will require some time, he noted. Foreign advertising in foreign media and press, on the internet, and through well-known international bloggers should also be planned and taken seriously, he mentioned. Earlier this month, the official noted that Iranian hotels have lost 202 trillion rials (some $4.8 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) of potential revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two-thirds of the hotel staff have lost their jobs as well, he added. Back in September, Hamzehzadeh announced that all employees of accommodation centers across Iran are scheduled to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. “To vaccinate staffs of all accommodation centers, including eco-lodges, apartment hotels, and guest houses, as well as hotels, more coordination with the Ministry of Health is needed,” he added. Back in July, ISNA reported that the tourism industry of the country has suffered a loss of some 320 trillion rials ($7.6 billion at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has also ruined more than 44,000 jobs in a once budding travel sector of the country, the report added. Experts believe accommodation centers suffered the most as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran and its subsequent unemployment and financial losses. Iran plans to resume issuing tourist visas Back in September, Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami announced that by the order of President Ebrahim Raisi the issuance of tourist visas and the flow of foreign tourists from land and air borders will be resumed from the month of Aban (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) following 19 months of suspension. Months of steep recession has taken its toll. Many travel insiders, hoteliers, and tour operators have faced big dilemmas such as bankruptcy, unemployment, debts, and the prospects of not being competitive on the international level. They now have good grounds of hope as Zarghami announced on September 19 that the country plans to lift visa restrictions to help the severely hit tourism industry. Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has continued to fall in the Islamic Republic, curbing a stubborn fifth wave of the pandemic, which has seen daily mortalities of up to 700 in recent weeks. As of September 22, the figure dropped to below 300 as the government has devoted a great deal of effort to vaccinate citizens against the nasty virus. Some experts believe Iran is still somehow “unknown” for many potential travelers due to Western “media war”. Several estimates have been released so far on the extent of the tourism-related losses incurred by the pandemic. Only months into the outbreak, Zarghami’s predecessor, Ali Asghar Mounesan, lamented that the number of foreign travelers to Iran was drastically plunged due to the pandemic. “Tourism of the country was growing before the corona [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,” Mounesan said. He added 8.7 million foreign nationals visited Iran during the [Iranian] year (1398), adding that Iran was ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism based on data compiled by the World Tourism Organization. Iran is potentially a booming destination for travelers seeking cultural attractions, breathtaking sceneries, and numerous UNESCO-registered sites. 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.