20 November 2017 - 00:35
Iran Mulls Virtual Tour Operators

Senior Iranian officials have discussed the potentials of Iranians living abroad in attracting foreign tourists to the country.

The discussion took place in a meeting held late last week between the officials of Tourism Department of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and representatives of Foreign Ministry.

During the meeting, Mohammad Moheb-Khodaei, ICHHTO’s deputy for tourism, brought up the idea of offering incentives to Iranians overseas to encourage foreigners to visit the country, Mehr News Agency reported.

“This population can act as Iran’s tourism marketers and win a free air ticket to Iran for every five foreigners they direct toward the country,” he said.

To supply the funds for the scheme, the official proposed that half of the ticket price be paid by airlines and the other half by travel agencies and hotels across provinces.

“Provincial officials will also be tasked with identifying people living across the borders because the plan can help improve handicraft exports and tourism,” he said.

Moheb-Khodaei noted that although governmental support is required, the scheme relies heavily on the private sector. However, he did not provide details on the mechanism for implementing the scheme.

The scheme has already been mentioned by tourism officials in the media several times but it is still not clear how the potential tourists will be organized in tours and how the marketers can register info about the travelers they direct to Iran. 

Ali Asghar Mohammadi, deputy for Iranian expatriates, said over five million Iranians are living across five continents and provide a great opportunity for ICHHTO, but the procedures of the scheme need to be clearly defined.

“It is essential to form a specialized team to study obstacles to the plans so as to resolve the issues from the starting point of travel at airports to the final stages,” he said, adding that collecting information about the Iranian elite and influential figures in other countries is among the Foreign Ministry’s plans.

Mohammadi also said ICHHTO can draw on the capacities of 100 consulates, 60 cultural and five scientific counseling offices of Iran, which are currently active overseas.

“Facilities for issuing electronic visa to Iran have been set up in 47 spots across the world, which can help ICHHTO implement the scheme,” he said, not mentioning the names of countries with the facility.

The Foreign Ministry has promised to study ways in which it can support the scheme, referred to as “virtual tour operators”.   

News Code 328501


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