More meetings are required between the top brass of Iranian banks and senior tourism officials to expand cooperation between the two key industries, according to Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
During a meeting last week with Valiollah Seif, governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Soltanifar stressed the key role tourism can play in creating jobs, alleviating poverty and contributing to economic development, IRNA reported.
“The CBI considers tourism a priority,” said the governor. “We are ready to help the sector to the extent possible.”
Labeling tourism as one of the most lucrative sectors in the global economy, Seif pointed to a report by the World Tourism Organization and said, “Tourism is a driving force of world economy and one of the main agents in reducing poverty, safeguarding the environment and nurturing peace and cooperation among cultures.”
Likewise in Iran, tourism is widely regarded by industry insiders as one of the best ways to lift Iran’s economy out of the mire and put it on a path to recovery and, subsequently, prosperity.
Highlighting the banking sector’s commitment to developing tourism, Seif said the CBI has decided to allocate 10% of all the banks’ credits to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the form of loans to “help reinvigorate them and encourage investment”.
After the signing of the historic nuclear accord between Iran and the six major powers last July, which was formally implemented in January, Iran has seen a slight rise in inbound tourist figures.
An increasing number of airlines are offering regular flights to Iran and many countries, which previously warned against all but essential travel to Iran, are either scrapping or relaxing their warnings, such as France, Australia and Britain.
According to an earlier report by The New York Times, the lifting of sanctions on Iran has resulted in a surge of bookings, tour operators say, many from Americans undeterred by a US State Department warning laying out the risks of taking trips there.
Tour operators say the demand has been so acute that they are racing to add new departures and selling them in record time.
“We need to develop our infrastructure and build more hotels and restaurants, not to mention the provision of international banking services,” Seif said.