BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 26
By Elnur Baghishov – Trend:
The number of foreign tourists visiting Iran in the first three months of the current Iranian year (March 20-June 20, 2020) was 74 people, said Iranian Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ali Asghar Munesan, Trend reports citing ISNA.
The minister stressed that however, the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran was 8.7 million in the last Iranian year (from March 21, 2019 to March 20, 2020).
He added that the reason for the decline is the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Munesan, the spread of the coronavirus has seriously damaged Iran's tourism sector. According to estimates, the tourism sector lost more than 120 trillion rials (about $285 million) by the end of the 4th month of the current Iranian year (July 21, 2020).
The minister noted that 1.75 trillion rials (about $41.6 million) in loans have been issued to protect employment in the tourism sector since February 19.
"Currently, there are great concerns about the tourism sector in Iran. It is hoped that the pandemic would end soon. However, if the pandemic continues, it will be very difficult," he said.
Munesan said that the establishment of a Free Tourism Zone on the Makran coasts in southeastern Iran has been proposed to the Iranian Planning and Budget Organization.
"The proposal plan in this regard must be approved by the government and parliament. The special support will be provided to the tourism sector in this zone, "he said.
Iran continues to monitor the coronavirus situation in the country. According to recent reports from the Iranian officials, over 365,600 people have been infected, and 21,020 people have already died. Meanwhile, over 314,800 have reportedly recovered from the disease.
The country continues to apply strict measures to contain the further spread. Reportedly, the disease was brought to Iran by a businessman from Iran's Qom city, who went on a business trip to China, despite official warnings. The man died later from the disease.
The Islamic Republic only announced its first infections and deaths from the coronavirus on Feb. 19.
The outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan - which is an international transport hub - began at a fish market in late December 2019.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Some sources claim the coronavirus outbreak started as early as November 2019.