The United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, in the hope of using the growing industry to help the global community meet the UN’s sustainable development goals.
To that end, the Qeshm Investment and Development Company has made financing projects that promote sustainable tourism a priority.
“We aim to promote Qeshm Island as a top destination for sustainable tourism,” Amir Muhammad Yadqar, an advisor to QIDC chief executive Reza Baqeri Nejad, told Mehr News Agency.
A sustainable approach to tourism means that neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities will be harmed by the tourists. On the contrary, the natural environment and the local communities should benefit from tourism, both economically and culturally.
The company has established connections with the Department of Environment, Persian Gulf Biotechnology Park in Qeshm, and island’s famed geopark to ensure all projects on island comply with the principles of sustainable development.
“Our plans run the gamut from preventing environmental pollution to ensuring that all structures are ecofriendly … we aim to reduce the impact of development on the environment to the extent possible,” Yadqar said.
Aside from financing projects, the QIDC also works to facilitate investment for others.
“To attract investment, we need to first promote Qeshm as an island with business opportunities,” he said. “Therefore, we’re going to hire bloggers to introduce the island’s potential for investment on the internet.”
Numerous countries aspiring to boost inbound numbers have launched blogger campaigns, including Japan, which like Iran is targeting the European market to draw tourists and investors by promoting its tourist destinations.
Interested bloggers will compete at an event on April 25-29, where they will be given all the necessary information they need to write about a destination in an engaging form. A panel of judges will then award the best pieces.
“This is a first-of-its-kind event in the country,” Yadqar noted.
Qeshm’s ecological and tourism value is not lost on anyone, but years of mismanagement and negligence has cost the picturesque island its rightful place as a top vacation spot, not to mention global fame.
The island boasts the Middle East’s first UNESCO-listed geopark, or at least it did, until the geopark was dropped from the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) in 2013 due to problems that have remained unresolved for too long, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and unenforced environmental regulations.
Since then, the Qeshm Free Zone Organization has been trying to lift the southern island up to international standards and has received new funding to develop infrastructure.
Aside from the sun and sandy beaches, the island’s famed mangrove forests in the Hara Protected Area draw large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists.
Hara Protected Area is one of five forests in Hormozgan Province and arguably the most important feature of Qeshm Geopark. With an area of 85,686 hectares, Hara is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
By Financial Tribune