Three Spanish ministers are scheduled to make a two-day trip to Iran on September 6, according to Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism Jose Manuel Soria and Minister of Public Works and Transport Ana Pastor Julian will visit Iran to discuss cooperation on tourism and aviation, Spanish news agency Agencia EFE quoted Movahed as saying, IRNA reported.
He said Iran targets 20 million tourists by 2025 and added: “We are aware of Spain’s thriving tourism industry. They overhauled their infrastructure and have attractions of historical and cultural significance, just like Iran.”
Movahed said establishing direct flights between the two states would be of immense boost to tourism and expressed Iran’s readiness to remedy the problem.
Earlier this month, Spanish Ambassador to Iran Pedro Antonio Villena said the number of Spanish tourists visiting Iran has increased threefold since President Hassan Rouhani took office.
Iran and Spain signed a memorandum of understanding 13 years ago for expanding tourism ties, but the agreement was never fulfilled.
Numerous meetings between tourism officials of the two states have been held in the past two years, but not all have borne fruit. Reestablishing direct Tehran-Madrid flights was discussed by both sides in 2014, but it did not materialize.
Even in 2015, during the 35th edition of FITUR tourism exhibition in Madrid, Ebad Reza Eslami, director for tourism and handicrafts affairs at Iran Tourism and Auto Racing Center, said Iran-Spain flights would be restarted at the beginning of summer—eight weeks ago.
Organization of familiarization (fam) tours was another measure that was discussed, yet it never happened. Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization had expressed eagerness to hold such tours, but it is unclear why fam trips have not been organized for the Spaniards.
On the sidelines of the 98th session of the UN World Tourism Organization in Spain, ICHHTO chief, Masoud Soltanifar, said the Iranian tourism market provides an attractive investment opportunity to Spanish investors and noted that Spanish officials are committed to strengthen tourism ties with Iran.
While the tourism officials of Iran and Spain made little headway in establishing tourism ties in the past, it is believed that renewed interest in strengthening relations will facilitate collaboration between the two states.