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Weak Advertising Keeps Iran's Tourism Potentials Unknown

By Soudabeh Sadigh, S. Omid Arab, Ladan M. Sadeghioon
Iran enjoys enormous potentials for attracting tourists which, due to weak advertising and lack of information available about this country, have remained unknown for most foreigners, says Prof. O'Gorman from University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
Tehran, 4 March 2007 (CHN) -- Presenting a simple plan which he calls "The Prentice-O'Gorman Destination Appraisal Matrix for Tourism" during the International Conference on Tourism in Islamic Countries held in Tehran, Dr. Kevin O'Gorman, professor of the department of hospitality and tourism management in University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, went over the factors considered by tourists when making a decision as to where to travel.
O'Gorman, who has made 16 travels to Iran during the past three years, believes that Iran enjoys enormous potentials for attracting tourists which, due to weak advertising and lack of information available about this country, have remained unknown for most foreigners.
Speaking with CHN regarding Iran's integrated tourism plans, O'Gorman said: "Iran has wonderful tourism products but first it is important to know what this market is. For example I know Kish Island already has integrated tourism plans which are very successful."
Referring to the traditional and cultural attractions of most the Muslim countries, O'Gorman explained that the majority of European and western tourists who come to Muslim and eastern countries are seeking to see something new like some new values which have somehow disappeared in their own countries. In this regard, O'Gorman said that he believes Islamic countries should pay attention to the part of their tourism attractions that has to do with their unique culture. According to him, Iran's archeology, cultural heritage, traditions, and natural characteristics are the main factors which attract foreigners to Iran. 
According to O'Gorman, despite all tourism attractions Iran has, it is unfortunate that the majority of Europeans are not familiar with this country and do not have much idea about how traveling to Iran would be like. This is partly caused by weak advertising.
As an expert in tourism studies, O'Gorman believes that when a foreigner from a western country travels to Muslim countries, he or she is seeking to see cultural attractions and is not looking particularly for signs of modernism. "The choice is based on knowledge, credibility, familiarity, feelings and affordability," he said.  
The matrix O'Gorman presented in the conference for evaluating tourism destinations was combined with the USP model, that is Unique Selling Points, which has turned into SSP (Standard Selling Points) by using the traditional strategy based on strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats.
He further mentioned that three factors are considered by tourists when choosing a destination to travel to which include tourism facilities, shopping, and whether he or she will enjoy the trip.
Therefore, he argued that there are three main approaches that each country needs to take for attracting and satisfying its tourists including: proper introduction of its tourism attractions through publishing catalogues and introducing them through the internet, providing tourists the chance to feel themselves in a real traditional atmosphere, and preserving and introducing its traditional, historical, and cultural values which is of the case in many Islamic countries.
Evaluating the tourism facilities in Iran and its tourism infrastructures, O'Gorman said: "Visiting Pasargadae and the tomb of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Achaemenid dynasty) was always one of my dreams. However, when I went to the tomb of Cyrus the Great, although I was impressed greatly by seeing the magnificence of the tomb itself, it was just the tomb and nothing else, no coffee shop to take a rest and have a cup of tea, no shop for buying souvenirs and post cards, nothing at all. This is while shopping is one of the main factors in tourism income and one of the main attractions a country can present to tourists."
Like many other foreigners who come to Iran, O'Gorman said that he truly enjoyed Iran's archeological site, cultural heritage and the hospitality of its people. "One of my interests is in cultural heritage of Iran and I am fascinated by Iranians' hospitality," added O'Gorman.
He further commented that Iran should facilitate visa issuance in order to increase the number of its tourists since one of the reasons that has kept the number of tourists to Iran low is the difficult task of obtaining Iran's visa. "As long as there are some problems for traveling to Iran including getting visa, like many other countries, despite having a rich culture and civilization, Iran does not receive large numbers of tourists. Therefore, providing visa facilities would be beneficial. Iran has wonderful products and could attract a large number of tourists once such barriers are removed."
Following his speech, Professor O'Gorman held a workshop in the conference in which some tourism attractions of Tehran as the capital city of Iran were discussed at the presence of tourism experts and journalists.
"The people of Tehran are one of the city's major attractions - a fact many of them are not aware of. In Tehran we can see a variety of people from different Iranian provinces who have migrated to this mega city and that is interesting. They are also very hospitable to tourists" said O'Gorman.
Drawing a comparison between Tehran and other capital cities he has ever visited, O'Gorman said: "Tehran has one of the cheapest ski resorts which offer high quality services when compared to other capital cities I have been into."
He further referred to tourism potentials Iran has for attracting tourists and urged Iranian policy makers to consider planning a better advertising strategy to introduce Iran's attractions to the world.
At the end, Prof. O'Gorman expressed hope that with improving its advertising and marketing, Iran can take major steps for promoting its tourism industry.  

... Payvand News - 3/4/07 ... --

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