The office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) in Kerman Province has seen four directors in the last five years, which has significantly hurt the province’s tourism industry.
Kerman is one of the oldest regions of Iran. It is home to a myriad of cultural heritage and historical sites which can be used to attract tourists not only from Iran, but also from all over the world. Sadly, this lack of stability in the province’s cultural heritage and tourism sectors has hindered progress. Long-term projects aimed at improving tourism infrastructure and restoring Kerman’s historical textures have been left unfinished, and Pateh – needlework unique to the province – is being mass produced in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China and sold in the global market.
Even though the governorate of Kerman has taken strides to revive the province’s profile by restoring the ancient Kerman Bazaar and Fath-Abad Garden, the majority of Kerman’s cultural heritage has fallen – or is well on their way to falling – into disrepair, such as the Kerman Jame’ Mosque which is threatened by humidity.
Speaking to Mehr News Agency, the secretary-general of Kerman’s Travel and Tourism Agencies Association, Masoud Dehghani, said, “The abysmal state of tourism in Kerman discourages travelers from even considering touring here.”
According to Dehghani, the directors chosen in recent years to helm the provincial ICHHTO were not selected based on merits or experience.
“Most of them were clueless and required training to be able to head the organization. By the time they were trained, however, they were replaced, rendering all the time and effort put into their training futile.”
Looking at the statistics, on average each director lasts a year at the helm of the organization, he said, adding that instability at such a high level makes progress impossible.
“The lack of a leader who uses a firm hand to get things done in Kerman and secure funding to complete unfinished projects has had an immeasurable impact on the province. While other provinces have comprehensive plans to move forward, we are running in place,” Dehghani said.
When a new director sees how his predecessors were treated, he decides against taking risks lest he also gets fired, Dehghani conceded, adding that the ICHHTO needs an experienced director not afraid of taking risks.
The second largest province in Iran, Kerman is one of the oldest inhabited regions in the Middle East. Human settlement in the area dates back to 4,000 BC, making Kerman a paradise for archeologists. The province is home to a plethora of natural and historical attractions which, with proper planning and investment, can be used to draw tourists and help boost the economy.