Iran has not been successful in using advertising for the development of its tourism industry, Arab Tourism Channel (ATC) director believes.
Tehran, 16 October 2005 (CHN) -- Tourism TV commercials help all countries developed in tourism industry to the benefit of the sector. Advertising has been so developed that in addition to television, radio and newspaper advertisings, it has been stretched into movies, serials, and documentary movies. Therefore Iran, which is planning for attracting tourists to the country and developing its tourism industry, should pay a special and professional attention in advertising, especially TV commercials, believes Arab Tourism Channel (ATC) director.
Today tourism is one of the most important sources of income and creates job opportunities in countries.
In a talk with Mohsen Saffar, director of ATC, who recently visited Iran, CHN asked his opinion in this regard.
Saffar strongly believes that each industry needs to promote its features through advertising, and in today's world the success of each industry is in close relations with advertising. Tourism as one of the most important industries of the 21st century needs long term plans in advertising. In this regard he explained, "Different countries have divided tourism advertising in different sections. One of them is holding exhibitions, there are some big exhibitions in different countries, among them we can refer to the World Travel Market (WTM), in Britain, and ITB in Germany, which are vast exhibitions sometimes visited by 20 to 30 million people."
Another approach to tourism advertising, which is very common nowadays, is advertising through internet, which provides all tourism information and sometimes even the opportunity to reserve hotels and rent cars.
Saffar believes that the most important part of tourism advertising is TV commercials. "Europe started using TV commercials since 1994, when the first channel specific to tourism was established. Now, there are several channels in this regard, and tourism advertising has been employed by other countries and Asia as well."
In Asia, Asian Travel channel and the Arab Tourism Channel are examples of such channels established for Arab countries.
Saffar explains that first of all a country, which wants to attract tourists, should introduce itself through movies, so that tourists will get familiar with different aspects of the target country. The second phase is to encourage tourists to take a trip to the country, and the third and the most important phase is to guide tourists about how to have safe comfortable trips.
"ATC has regarded this policy in its contracts with several countries, such as Malaysia, Oman, and Turkey, etc. It is important to consider the fact that just encouraging the people to do or buy something which they are not familiar with is useless. Such an issue is more obvious about some countries such as Iran, which is not developed in tourism industry. People are quite familiar with some countries such as France; therefore, the country does not need to introduce itself. But Iran's case is different. Iran should do its best to introduce itself and its attractions. Maybe we as natives know about our country, but a foreigner who wants to come to our country should know about the beautiful sites, the restaurants, shopping centers, etc. For example if a foreign tourist does not like Iranian dishes, he should know where and in which restaurants he can find Western foods. In other words, we should ensure them that we are able to fulfill their expectations, of course within the frame of the rules of the country. Besides a tourist should be informed about the regulations of the target country he is traveling to," says Saffar.
Giving Iran a grade with regard to tourism TV commercials, Saffar chooses to give it zero! "Iran's grade in this regard is zero or even bellow zero; officials should work on the issue. It is not just in case of TV commercials, but in all fields of advertisement." Saffar notes, then refers to Iran's participation in tourism exhibitions, "If you pay attention, you will see that Iran's participation in international tourism exhibitions is quiet unprofessional. Most often Iran's pavilions are strange, and the people who are present there do not know any foreign languages, and it is not clear why they have come there. The designs of Iran's pavilions are the worst you can find in the exhibition."
In TV commercials, according to Saffar, although Iran has so far signed some contracts with some channels for broadcasting its advertisements, none of them has been successful so far. "Advertising itself is a professional job," he asserts, believing that the commercials Iran has had on CNN, BBC, and Al-Arabia channels have not been successful in attracting tourists to the country, because they have not been prepared efficiently.
"I bet after the programs, the number of the tourists visiting the country has not increased even one percent," he concludes, choosing the moment to consider the industry a significant one and put it in expert hands, even if in those of foreigners.
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