Zanjan, Nov 16, IRNA -- Head of Iran cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Hossein Marashi said here Monday that Iran's share of world-wide tourism is about dlrs 500 million annually.
Speaking to reporters, he added that it is estimated that the figure will stand at dlrs two billion by the end of the fourth five-year development plan (March 20005-2010).
"After the revolution tourism was frowned upon for long period as a luxurious and conspicuous activity," he said.
"Iran has not made adequate investments, commensurate with its indigenous talents in its tourism sector."
Marashi, also vice-president, said modernism and tradition have often stood against each other in many societies. The conflict has also manifested itself at the realms of cultural heritage, the head of ICHTO said.
Any nation which has neglected its historical treasures has found their value the hard way later on and begun to pay special attention to them.
The wave of modernism which began at the end of the Qajar period and adversely affected the cultural heritage gave away gradually to a culture of restoration and renovation, Marashi underlined.
He also lauded the formation of a new cultural heritage and tourism organization, which, concurrently with the inception of the fourth development plan will provide a good opportunity for revising the prevalent outlook regarding the merits of tourism.
"During the plan new policies and programs will be implemented in the sector," Marashi added.
He said that currently, Iran's share in the world tourism revenues is a meager 0.0001 percent.
Marashi said the average growth of the tourism in the Third Five Year Development Plan (March 2000-2005) stood at 6.5 percent. He further reckoned that the industry's growth will rise to 30 percent annually at the beginning of the fourth development plan.
"The sector will be at the forefront of the national economy during that fourth development plan", Marashi added.
Achieving the objectives hinge on efforts by officials and organizations and private sector. The private sector will burden 83 percent of the investments during the fourth plan.
"Of the 17 percent of the government's share in overall investments, over 10 percent will be paid out to private sector in the form of subsides," Marashi concluded,
He said that the Iranian people and government should look positively to the issue of tourism, and strive to sweep away doubts, concerns and suspicion regarding the tourists visiting the country.
Marashi said formation of a committee has been outlined as part of the comprehensive plan aiming to educate the society on the positive aspect of tourism.
President Mohammad Khatami in November called for close links and strong cooperation among the cultural heritage and tourism organizations in Iran and France given the significant position of cultural heritage in dialogue among civilizations.
In a meeting with Director of France's Louvre Museum Henri Loyrette in Tehran, President Khatami said the museum, that is a great asset of mankind, has been playing a crucial role in introducing many big and outstanding civilizations of the world.
Loyrette for his part highlighted historical and cultural commonalities between Iran and France, saying French President Jacques Chirac is to assign part of Louvre Museum to displaying Islamic arts works.
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