The United Nations World Tourism Organization has chosen “One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities”, as the theme for 2015 World Tourism Day, said the deputy head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).
Morteza Rahmani Movahhed added that the theme evinces the role of tourism industry in all-out development.
“We have chosen the theme “One Tourist: One Opportunity” for familiarizing with Iran”.
Also, Mohammadreza Kargar, the director general of ICHHTO for museum affairs, said admission to all ICHHTO-affiliated museums was free of charge to domestic visitors on Sept. 27.
Vice-President and Head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar said earlier 5.5 million foreigners traveled to Iran in the year to March 2015, bringing in revenues of $5.7 billion.
He reiterated that Iran is planning to host over 20 million foreign tourists until 2025.
“We are preparing the infrastructure, air transport network, facilitating the process of issuing visas and training of skilled manpower in the fields of tourism,” he added.
Soltanifar noted that Iran enjoys the highest capacities in cultural, historical, natural and pilgrimage tourism.
The senior official put the average annual rate of tourism growth at 5.4 percent.
“International tourist arrivals is predicted to grow by a further five percent until 2020,” he said, adding tourism in Iran is set for a big leap.
“We have planned to attract three times more tourists to Iran than the average global rate, which can be achieved by reviewing visa regulations.”
Noting that post-sanction era provides an opportunity to expand tourism, he said 120 tourism projects have been drawn up as packages and would be ceded to interested foreign and domestic investors for implementation.
“Iran welcomes visa waivers for countries which reciprocate by receiving Iranian tourists,” he said.
Soltanifar said out of 215 countries, 40 have been selected as Iran’s main tourism targets.
“So far, 28 countries have received Iran’s proposal to mutually waive visa requirements,” he said.
The official described electronic visa as a great revolution in the tourism sector since it has made it possible for Iranians to obtain visa from home.
He continued that Iran is believed to have rich potential to become a Halal touristic hub and attract millions of Muslims to visit the country annually.
Many principles of Halal tourism, including serving halal meat in airplanes, hotels and restaurants, and prohibition of serving alcoholic beverages in such places, are already observed in Iran, he said.
“If Iran provides more athletic facilities for Muslim women, then it would be an ideal touristic destination for Muslims from all over the world,” Soltanifar added.
Halal tourism is considered as a new branch of tourism industry by the World Tourism Organization that provides Muslims with special recreational and touristic programs.
World Tourism Day is held annually on Sept. 27. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in materializing these goals.
It was at its third session (Torremolinos, Spain, September 1979), that the UNWTO General Assembly decided to establish World Tourism Day, beginning in 1980. This date was chosen to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism: The anniversary of adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on Sept, 27, 1970.
The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is on the minds of millions of people worldwide.
World Tourism Day is celebrated by events around the themes selected by the UNWTO General Assembly, on the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council.
While UNWTO invites people of all ages and backgrounds to hold and take part in celebrations in their respective country or holiday destination, official celebrations take place in a UNWTO Member State, on the basis of geographic rotation.