Iran Tourism Flourishing Despite U.S. Sanctions

Figures disclosed by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization shows that over 7.8 million foreigners traveled to the Islamic Republic during the past Iranian year (ended on March 20), a 52% hike year on year.

According to CHHTO Director Ali-Asghar Mounesan, inbound travelers brought some $11.8 billion of revenues to the country during the period, Mehr reported.

The boost, however, comes in the face of re-imposed U.S. sanctions, which potentially inflicts a serious threat to the tourism sector, Mounesan said.

“Despite all the externals restrictions, mostly from the U.S., we have managed to attract more foreign travelers to the country,” Mehr quoted the tourism chief as saying.

The lower costs of Iran travel packages have been a key factor in making the country more attractive to foreigners, he stated.

A huge depreciation of the rial against foreign currencies, which is due to the sanctions targeting its economy, has been made traveling to Iran for foreign tourists considerably cheaper. This seems to be an opportunity for fostering the promising industry of tourism in Iran.

The restrictions have also had some negative impacts to the sector, but to combat the hurdles, Iranian authorities have introduced different initiatives, including the one that eliminates the need to put official stamps on passports of foreign tourists visiting the country.

For another step, the Iranian government has sharpened its focus on improving tourism infrastructures by expanding the number of high-quality hotels and providing cheap loans to players in the sector.

The country has also made its best to boost marine tourism; for instance two major passenger sea routes have been activated with the country’s southern neighbors in recent months and as many as a half a dozen more are in the pipeline.

Many experts, including Mounesan, believe that revenues from tourism can replace those of the oil sector.

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