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Iran's Score in Sport Tourism Not Satisfactory

Many experts and those active in sport tourism believe that Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) has almost no plans for the promotion of this sport tourism in Iran.

Tehran, 24 July 2006 (CHN) -- Sport tourism experts and activists believe that despite existence of enormous sport tourism potentials in Iran, Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) does not have a planned program for developing this industry and the new management of the organization has neglected the importance of this industry. While every year more than 20 billion US dollars is gained through sport tourism throughout the world, the secretary of the Sport Tourism Committee of ICHTO has refused to give any explanation about Iran's share which is not expected to be anything significant.

"No special measure has been taken so far for promoting the sport tourism in our country. Maybe the formation of Sport Tourism Committee by ICHTO can be considered as an important step taken by this Organization in this respect; however, little has been seen of this Committee. Forming cultural pavilions during the Soccer World Cup 2006 Championship in Germany was one of the positive programs by ICHTO which was implemented by the cooperation of Iran's Soccer Federation which led to the unity of all Iranians under the flag of Iran. That event proved that we can use Iran's sport potentials to attract more tourists. However, despite enjoying a diverse climate which can be used greatly for promoting our sport tourism, ICHTO has not yet taken any serious steps in this respect," said Saeed Moradi, head of Sport Tourism Council of Iran's Public Sport Federation.

Moradi also said that some sport organizations in Iran such as the federations of motor racing, mountaineering, rowing, and skiing have held some programs in the past but they must receives supports from ICHTO as sport federations are non-governmental organizations and they do not have enough budget to hold such programs on a regular basis.

Last year for the first time, Reza Hanayi, coordinator of the Silk Road rally car racing succeeded in directing the path of the rally which was held between France and China to pass through Iran. Now it is more than two years that Hanayi, who has a certificate for holding world cup rallies in Iran, has started some negotiations with the authorities of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization to hold these races in Iran. Hanayi believes that in addition to the attendance of some well-known athletes in Iran, holding these races would attract a large number of tourists to the country. "Despite all the efforts which was made for holding these races in Iran, ICHTO could not take advantage of this situation and holding the world cup rallies in Iran is still in an ambiguous position," said Hanayi.

On the other hand, Kourosh Mojtabavi, secretary of sport tourism commission of the Olympic National Committee who has been active in sport tourism for six years, believes that the Organization has not supported the private sector in sport tourism industry at all while the benefit of this project could be millions of dollars added to the country's tourism revenue. He also believes that poor management by ICHTO could in fact mislead sport tourism in Iran and weaken its potentials.

In response to all these comments, Kambiz Babayi Nemati, secretary of the ICHTO sport tourism committee, explained what ICHTO has been doing to promote sport tourism and said: "The Organization started separating the sport tourism from rural and nomad tourism in May 2006 and then it began compiling a sport calendar and selected the members of the sport tourism committee."

According to Babayi, ICHTO has a special view toward sport tourism because in modern world sport is considered an important tool for promoting other fields as well.

He also said that ICHTO's sport tourism committee is intending to develop cooperation with the private sector. "We are determined to use the potentials of the private sector. In fact, for promoting our sport tourism we need the cooperation of the private sector including travel agencies and hotels," added Babayi.

Considering the enormous natural sport potentials Iran has to attract tourists, such as beautiful beaches usable all year round and fantastic mountains suitable both for mountaineering and skiing, through appropriate cooperation between ICHTO and the private sector, including different sport federations, Iran can take a positive step toward attracting sport tourists and boosting its tourism industry this way.

... Payvand News - 7/25/06 ... --

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