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Number Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty Six - 13 September 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty Six - 13 September 2023 - Page 5

Iran’s tourism among top 20 countries

Iran draws 7.1m foreign tourists amid hostile campaigns

Focusing on Iran’s tourism sector is seen as a catalyst for economic growth and reducing dependence on oil revenues. This effort stimulates economic advancement, creates jobs, and involves various industries. Similar to trade, tourism relies on supply and demand and its success could trigger a chain reaction, boosting related businesses, especially micro-enterprises. Such a positive impact could spread across different economic sectors.
Tourism can be beneficial for achieving regional balance and sustainable progress in growing areas. It also helps remote regions overcome challenges. Statistics show that each tourism project provides employment for about ten people on average. In some countries, tourism incomes even surpass total tax earnings. That’s why, the Iranian government emphasizes tourism in its development plans.
Despite recognizing its importance, Iran has lagged behind neighboring countries in tourism. The country’s 7th Economic Development Plan highlights growing the tourism sector and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts aims to attract 15 million tourists annually.
President Ebrahim Raeisi has stressed the need to tap into Iran’s potential and attract foreign visitors to reach the ambitious target of 15 million. His vision includes family-focused tourism, easing visa requirements with target nations, and encouraging private-sector investments. The government prioritizes tourism, promoting collaboration across sectors to advance the industry as the concerted effort seeks to propel Iran’s tourism landscape forward.
In recent years, tourism’s role in Iran’s economy has undergone significant shifts, as highlighted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report. From contributing 3.1% of the total economic activity in 2020, tourism’s share in Iran rose to 4.6% in 2022. Conspicuously, Iranian tourists spent an impressive $33.3 billion in 2021, ranking Iran 16th globally for tourism expenditures, trailing behind prominent players like the United States, China, Germany, and more.
The headway in domestic tourism spending signals Iran’s ascent in the international tourism ranking, a result of the current government’s focus on promoting both internal tourism and ties with neighboring nations.
As the tourism sector prospers, the potential for employment generation within Iran surges, rising by 11.2% in 2022 alone and employing around 1.44 million people. By the end of 2022, the broader tourism sector’s share in Iran’s overall employment reached 6.1%.

Tourism’s contribution to GDP

Iran’s tourism sector experienced remarkable growth in 2022, with a growth rate surpassing 39%, amounting to approximately 454 trillion tomans. This sector contributed 6% to the GDP prior to 2019 and is projected to reach 313 trillion tomans by 2028, as per the World Bank’s data.
Foreign tourists’ financial engagement also saw a substantial rise, with expenditures of $6.2 billion in 2022, marking a 73.5% increase from the previous year. This surge is a significant improvement from the $2.5 billion spent by foreigners in 2021, resulting in a total expenditure of $8.7 billion.
Considering domestic tourism, Iranians spent 225 trillion tomans on local trips in 2021, which rose to over 316 trillion tomans in 2022, showing a substantial 40.1% year-on-year increase. These statistics underscore the growing impact of tourism on Iran’s economy, emphasizing the sector’s potential for economic advancement.

Revival of Iran’s tourism with 40% growth

The WTTC’s report on Iran reveals a significant resurgence in the country’s tourism sector over the past two years. In 2020, the sector faced a substantial setback with a 45% drop in its contribution to the GDP, but in 2021, it rebounded remarkably, growing by 40% within the national economy.
Analyzing the council’s statistics, it’s clear that Iran’s tourism gained prominence in 2022, with a 39.2% upsurge. This led to the tourism industry contributing 4.6% to Iran’s total economic activity, amounting to 454 trillion tomans. This value closely aligns with the pre-pandemic figure of 499 trillion tomans from before the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak.

Attracting 7.1m foreign tourists in 2 years

With the new Iranian government taking office in August 2021 and the vaccination campaign, the tourism industry resumed operations after a two-year hiatus. The first steps included vaccinating hospitality and tourism employees, prioritizing accommodations and hotels, and implementing strategic tourism policies while following health protocols.
Despite initial contractions in 2021, the sector experienced a commendable turnaround. In the final quarter of 2021, Iran’s tourism industry rebounded by 40%, and foreign visitors injected $2.5 billion into the economy during this period. This outpaced the global growth rate of 21.7% for the same timeframe.
The revival gained momentum, especially in the first quarter of 2022, with the removal of restrictions on foreign tourist visas. Collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led to the resumption of inbound tourism routes.
Iran’s tourism sector has showcased resilience and growth, signaling a positive trajectory for the country’s economy and global engagement in the post-pandemic era.

Iran’s portion of 6% of Mideast tourists  

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reports a remarkable surge in foreign tourist arrivals to Iran in 2022, with 4.1 million visits recorded, a 315% growth compared to the previous year. Despite this impressive increase, Iran’s share of global foreign tourist journeys remains modest at 0.4% for 2022.
This growth stands in stark contrast to the declines experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (83% drop) and 2021 (around 30% contraction). The Middle East region as a whole saw a significant upswing, with 66 million foreign tourist journeys in 2022, a 163% rise from the previous year. Iran’s portion of the total foreign tourists entering the Middle East is approximately 6%, indicating progress while highlighting further growth potential.

Tourism diplomacy

Under the current government, Iran has shifted its foreign policy toward enhancing relations with neighboring countries, resulting in a focus on tourism development and collaboration. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage emphasizes shared cultural ties, leading to measures such as abolishing visa requirements, improving access to tourist sites, and promoting budget-friendly options. Joint cultural events and bilateral agreements with nations like Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia further illustrate this approach.
This diplomatic outreach has shown results, with a decline in tourists from traditional markets (Europe and North America) but a boost in visitors from neighboring countries, particularly those with Islamic cultural affinities. The influx of Chinese and Russian tourists has also risen compared to previous years. As Iran’s tourism industry grows through strategic partnerships and policy changes, it continues to tap into the potential of its proximity to neighboring nations and shared cultural commonalities.

Countries with most tourists

In 2021, Turkish tourists accounted for over 15% of Iran’s foreign tourist influx, securing the second spot after Iraq with approximately 35%. This was a notable increase from the previous year’s 9% contribution from Turkish visitors. Pakistan had a 10% share, Azerbaijan contributed 9%, and Kuwait held 2%, while other nations made up 29% of foreign tourist visits in Iran.
In 2022, a shift occurred with Iraq contributing 55% of foreign tourists, followed by Azerbaijan and Turkey at 6% each, Pakistan at 5%, and Kuwait at 2%, with nearly 98% of them visiting Iran for pleasure.

40% increase in domestic trips

The year 2022 marked a turning point with the arrival of Nowruz, signaling a departure from the pandemic’s grip and inspiring nations to embrace tourists more warmly. A travel service coordination headquarters was established to facilitate these efforts, involving 23 executive bodies.
The tourism industry saw promising growth, with official records showing over 52 million overnight stays in authorized lodging centers, indicating a 40% increase compared to figures from two years prior.
Nowruz 2023 continued this positive trend, witnessing a remarkable 57 million domestic travelers seeking accommodations in authorized centers. This occurred despite heightened Iranophobia measures and negative campaigns, reflecting the industry’s resilience.
Despite challenges, the past two years have attracted 7.1 million tourists to Iran, defying predictions of collapse and showcasing the industry’s vitality.

90% occupancy of hotels

In recent years, the tourism sector faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic sanctions. Despite these difficulties, the industry has shown positive shifts through containment efforts and strategic adaptation to health protocols. This was particularly evident during the 2022 Nowruz celebrations, reflecting pent-up travel demand accumulated over three years.
This positive trajectory continued into 2023, with an unprecedented surge in hotel and accommodation center visits, resulting in an average occupancy rate exceeding 90%. Recreational facilities, museums, and historical sites also experienced substantial activity, maintaining an average above 80% compared to the corresponding timeframe.

Iranophobia, enemy’s plan to target tourism  

Examining campaigns to paint an insecure picture of Iran, it’s evident that one of the sectors that could bear the brunt of such conditions is the tourism industry. Iran’s Leader emphasized in 2022 that adversaries intend to hinder sectors, including tourism, using Iranophobia. These forces aim to suppress Iran’s tourism growth, employing bias to undermine progress and competition with regional rivals.
The battle against Iranophobia is crucial, aiming to present a secure and magnificent Iran to the world. This effort remains a focus of the incumbent government and officials from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts. While the industry faces hardships, the potential to showcase Iran’s beauty, magnificence and security through tourism is essential in countering negative perceptions and promoting progress.





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