Tehran, June 20, IRNA – The government could subsidize tourism, Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Company’s deputy for development and economy, Adnan Sepehri, said.
In developed countries, the private sector supplies 10 to 15 percent of funds for tourism projects, while the rest is invested by the government and repaid in long-term installments, Sepehri told IRNA on Wednesday.
In tourist countries such as Turkey and Malaysia, the government pays a subsidy to hotels for each foreign tourist simply because they bring along foreign exchange revenues.
A major shortcoming in Iran’s economy is that it is controlled by the government. This includes large chain hotels with high expenditures managed by ITTIC, whereas hotels run by families have much lower costs.
The hotels of ITTIC are located in strategic places, but they are mainly rundown. However, when the private sector takes over a hotel, it refurbishes the building.
“Worldwide, governments prepare the ground for the participation of private sector, but not so in Iran,” Sepehri said.
He hoped that the participation of private sector will help boost tourism.
“We cannot meet all the requirements of foreign tourists, including facilitation of their visits by ensuring transportation, sanitary services and safety,” he said.
At Imam Khomeini International Airport, 150 foreign travelers were surveyed, according to which, most of them had a positive impression of Iranian culture, but complained about tourism management.
Cash posed a major problem; foreign tourists have to carry along a bunch of banknotes when they enter the country, because the banking system does not accept foreign credit cards, which makes currency exchange difficult.
Foreign tourists usually deal with travel agencies, transportation, shopping and medical treatment. If they are expected to visit the country again, these issues should be made easier.
Distance is a factor to reckon with. To visit two cities, a tourist must sometimes follow a very long road, which can give rise to potential challenges related to food, sanitation and accommodation.
In the past, visa posed a major challenge for tourists who intended to visit Iran. In recent years, fortunately, foreign tourists face no problem in getting the Iranian visa.
Currently, more pilgrims from Arabic-speaking countries are visiting Iran’s religious sites. There is also a growing surge of tourists from China that has become wealthier than before.
Sepehri said ITTIC welcomes both domestic and foreign investors in the hotel sector.
When foreigners come to discuss investment, they are usually representing a brand. In the absence of a comprehensive and attractive investment package, only small hotels can be expected to be set up.
In terms of tourism infrastructure, ITTIC prefers to work with investors from the US and European countries.
With regard to development of tourism, hotel is usually the first notion that comes to mind, particularly a five-star hotel.
Sepehri is against the general trend that favors luxury hotels. He argues that two-, three- and four-star hotels are worthwhile as well, as these are very important for tourists traveling on a budget.
“However, the final decision should be made after expert studies,” he said. (FTD)