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Iran should do more to win greater share in tourist income in 2010

By: Behnaz H. Gholipour

Tehran, March 28, IRNA-World tourism industry witnessed a boom in 2004 after the sharp decline following the 9/11 kamikaze terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington.

The world tourism industry had since the terrorist attacks in the US been affected by a number of other negative factors such as the US-led wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and bird flu.

Despite all the adverse factors, the industry started to grow as of 2004. The number of tourists travelling worldwide rose by 10 percent to more than 760 million in 2004 compared to 2003.

The industry is expected to show further growth in the coming years worldwide so much so that the revenues are estimated to reach about dlrs 1,000 billion in 2010 from the current dlrs 700 billion.

According to the world Ecotourism Organization, Iran, a country with high tourism potential and attractions, can have a share of dlrs 12 billion in the global tourism revenues by 2010.

Iran, which ranks seventh worldwide in terms of tourist attractions, can earn dlrs 180 million from tourism this year.

As a country with rich civilization and history, Iran unfortunately has a tiny share in the global tourist revenue of dlrs 700 billion and ranks low in terms of attracting and hosting tourists.

The country reserves the 70th rank worldwide and 13th among Muslim countries in terms of tourist hosting capacity.

Iran has high capacity in religious and medical tourism.

There are many religious sites in the country, including the holy shrine of Hazrat Ali Ibn Mousa al-Reza (AS), the eight Imam of Prophet Mohammad's (SAWA) infallible household, in Mashhad in northeastern Khorasan Razavi province and also the holy shrine of his beloved sister Hazrat Masoumeh (SA) in the holy city of Qom.

There are ample natural attractions and historical monuments scattered across the country, including those in tourist cities of Shiraz, Isfahan, Hamedan, Tous of Mashhad and Ardebil.

There have recently been words on the country's medical tourism potential in view of high standard of the knowledge and expertise of the physicians and specialists in body organ transplants as well as the blood, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

Medical tourism can earn the country a huge revenues, channelling hefty capital to the medicare and medical research sectors.

The US, Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, France and recently UAE have been working on the medical tourism industry, setting up medicare centers near their tourist sites, historical monuments and natural beauties as well as finely constructed buildings.

Iran can take necessary measures to benefit from its enormous historical, medical, natural, cultural and social advantages to win more tourists, thus gaining a higher share in the world tourist revenues by 2010.

Officials need to roll up sleeves and do more in the field.

Seminars and conference should be organized both within the country and abroad to introduce national tourist attractions.

Special brochures and booklets should be printed to introduce the attractions, invite foreign reporters to closely view the country's attractions and tourist facilities and reflect them worldwide, organize related fairs and conferences in cooperation with the World Tourism Organization and even conduct some publicity with the help of the national airlines.

Fortunately Iran's Civil Aviation Organization and national flag carrier have been active in this field, doing some publicity.

The national airliner has through a number of effective actions in recent years managed to raise its competitive capability with its main competitors.

For instance, Iran's airliner managed to raise the number of tourists and passengers transported from Germany to Iran by 21 percent to 145,000 in 2004. It managed to win a 50 percent share in passenger transfer to Iran in competition with German Lufthansa airliner in 2004.

Keeping all the feedback in mind, one can expect the country and officialdom to embark on the hard task of improving national tourism industry by paying more care to it.

Hope the country with its vast capability in the field can win more share in the world tourism revenues in 2010.

... Payvand News - 3/29/05 ... --

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