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Iranian tourism officials banned from giving interviews

TEHRAN, Oct. 21 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) has recently forbidden its managers to be interviewed by the news media or for them to disclose any information to the press on the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran.

The report was published on Wednesday by the Persian service of CHN after several CHTHO provincial directors refused to give information about the number of tourists to the news agency.

"According to a CHTHO memorandum, we don't have permission to give out the number of tourists visiting Iran," South Khorasan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department Deputy Director Morteza Arabi told CHN.

Kordestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department Deputy Director Farshid Chechani also declined to reveal any information and said that every application requesting information about the subject must be sent straight to the CHTHO director.

The CHTHO Public Relations Office has confirmed the report and said, "The CHTHO deputy director has prohibited all provincial departments to publish any statistics on tourism."

The number of foreign tourists applying for a visa to visit Iran has declined over the past few months.

Last July, Hamid Baqaii succeeded CHTHO's controversial former director Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii. After him, the former CHTHO Public Relations Office director Reza Musavi, who had unofficially banned Iranian press and media, was then appointed as CHTHO deputy director.

He had prohibited archaeologists working at ancient Iranian sites from giving interviews to the Iranian press.

Over the past five years, archaeologists have published a great deal of information explaining the destruction of ancient Iranian historical sites as a result of building roads and dams and other so-called construction projects.

... Payvand News - 10/21/09 ... --

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