Tehran Times Tourism Desk
TEHRAN — Over five million foreign tourists have visited Iran since the beginning of Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2015) Director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Massud Soltanifar has said.
“Around five million and 100 thousand tourists traveled to the Islamic Republic over the past five months,” Soltanifar said in an interview with the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency last week.
Tourism industry has been completely crippled in some other regional countries like Iraq, Syria and Yemen due to wars and rattling violence, he said.
“This situation provides a great opportunity for Iran to attract more tourists to the country as a safe Middle Eastern destination,” he added.
He said that Iran tries its best to make sure that the safety of foreign tourists is guaranteed in the country.
“We believe that Iran is the center of Halal tourism in the world and we’ll make efforts to keep it so in the future,” he said.
As an Islamic country, the Islamic dietary laws are already observed in Iran so there is no need for further investments in applying principles of Halal tourism industry, he said.
“Therefore, the Halal tourism marketing is very important for Iran but there are some deficiencies in some parts of it,” Soltanifar added.
He pointed to the limited number of swimming pools and beach areas for women as one of the problems Iran faces for boosting Halal tourism.
“The tourism industry was neglected in Iran for many years. It may take years to boost cultural and economic development of Iran through tourism,” he concluded.
According to Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Iran is the most affordable country for tourists amongst the 141 countries.
Price Competitiveness in the Tourism and Travel Industry is the lower costs related to travel in a country increase its attractiveness for many travelers as well as for investing in the T&T sector.
Iran made it onto the top destination lists of major publications such as The Financial Times and The Guardian last year thanks to sights that include 2,500-year old ruins at Persepolis near Shiraz and 16th-century Islamic architectural gems in Isfahan.
Iran is home to some of the world’s most magnificent historical and archaeological sites. Relics of a proud ancient civilization include: Persepolis, the capital of the largest empire that the world has ever seen; the city of Isfahan; Shiraz, the city of love and poetry; and Hamadan, where Avicenna, the father of early modern medicine, is buried.
UNESCO has declared 16 world heritage sites in Iran, which was historically referred to as Persia in the west until the 20th century.