Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Majlis session, Ali Asghar Mounesan said the number of foreign tourists who visited Iran was about 4.7m in 2017 and it soared to 7.8m in 2018 and the figure has grown by 40 percent in the first four months of the current year. He added that tourism’s share from GDP has been $11.8b while the figure was $7b last year.
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He added that Iran’s tourism industry is progressing well despite the U.S.’ undermining measures, ccording to Rouhani’s candidate for the newly-established Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.
Mounesan said the country’s tourism industry is on the right track and progressing well.
The ICHHTO has recently been changed into a ministry, and Mounesan was picked as President Rouhani’s candidate to serve as the minister.
“Around March 2018, we received a governmental notice warning about the behavior of the U.S. administration and its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, so we started to plan accordingly so that the measures would not affect the number of tourists visiting our country,” Mounesan added.
He said one of these plans was to define new target markets.
“For instance, we implemented a one-way visa waiver with Oman. Recently, we did the same with China. From Oman alone, we received 4,700 tourists. The number has reached 12,400 tourists since the past three months,” he added.
“We have made plans and set our sight on regional markets. As of now, tourists visit Iran for receiving treatment, besides doing pilgrimages. This has brought in a lot of revenues for the country, even more so than revenues brought in by European tourists,” he said.
He also noted that the volume of investment in the tourism sector has hit 200b tomans and the figure can enhance in the future. He reiterated that tourism industry can earn the country huge revenues and it can be a sustainable source of revenue for the country while the country is under sanctions for its oil sales.
Mounesan added that according to the statistics, the number of American tourists to Tehran grew by 62 percent between 2014 and 2016 but due to the new U.S. government policy, Americans have decreased their visits to Iran.