Iran turns to tourism to earn hard currency, create jobs

Al-Monitor  | : As another round of broad US sanctions against Iran is set to be implemented, the Islamic Republic is redoubling its efforts to boost its underdeveloped tourism sector through new initiatives and accelerating the finalization of nascent measures.

The psychological effects of the return of US sanctions and underlying structural weaknesses in Iran’s economy have jointly acted to send the national currency into a tailspin in recent months. But a weak rial also means cheaper travel for foreigners, prompting Iran to snatch the opportunity to both ease pressure on its hard currency reserves and also to combat US efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.

Marine tourism has proven an especially effective target for development in recent months. Starting Sept. 23, the Swedish-made Sunny — Iran’s only cruise liner — commenced operations between the southern port city of Bandar Abbas and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. A result of private investment, the Sunny in March 2017 became the first Iran-owned ocean liner to touch the waters of the Persian Gulf since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It can carry 420 passengers and takes trips that last about 11 hours — at prices cheaper than air travel — and carry export containers, too.

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