6% hike in Sistan-Baluchestan visitors

Financial Tribune- Tourism to the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan saw a 6% increase during the Norouz (Iranian New Year) holidays (March 21-April 2), said the head of the provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Speaking to YJC, Kambiz Moshtaq Gohari said 693,000 tourists traveling by plane and train visited the province during the two-week vacation.

According to the official, Shahr-e-Soukhteh (Persian for Burnt City) in northern Sistan-Baluchestan and Beris, Ramin, Tong and Bolbolak mud volcanoes as well as the port city of Chabahar were the most popular destinations.

“Travelers were settled at lodges prepared by ICHHTO and Sistan’s Education Department and free zones,” he said.

Gohari noted that about 200,000 people traveled out of the province, increasing Sistan’s outbound travel rate by only 1%.

Although the province has been shunned both by domestic and foreign travelers, Sistan-Baluchestan is looking to overhaul its image and promote itself as a safe destination with plenty to offer.

Ali Osat Hashemi, Sistan’s governor general, said before the holidays that licenses had been issued to 44 ecolodges in the last Iranian year (March 2016-17), two of which hosted tourists during Norouz, ILNA reported.

“Prior to the current government coming to power [in 2013], there were only 11 roadside lodging places in the entire province, but by the yearend [March 20], we will increase that number by 25,” he said, adding that the goal is to build 19 motels.

Officials are also working on developing the area’s marine and ecotourism infrastructures, hoping to tap into the region’s access to the sea and unspoiled natural landscapes.

The southeastern province is home to two world heritage sites: Shahr-e-Soukhteh and Lut Desert—Iran’s first natural world heritage site (shared between Sistan-Baluchestan and Kerman).

The massive province has four airports, while construction is underway to build a fifth in Chabahar, a port city on the coasts of the Sea of Oman.

Another attraction is the so-called Martian Mounts. Stretching parallel to Makran Coast from Kachoo Village up to the proximity of Gwadar Bay, are the mesmerizing Martian Mounts, a type of badlands.

These mounds are regarded as symbols of Chabahar’s unique geomorphology. Plans to establish roadside facilities are progressing steadily.

A strip of land stretching along the southern border of Sistan-Baluchestan is home to mangrove forests that are replete with diverse species of seabirds such as flamingos and herons.