Coronavirus Devastates Iran’s Tourism Industry

  • According to Tourism Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan, up to 70 percent of flights to Iran from abroad were canceled on short notice in the aftermath of the plane shoot down.
  • The US and UK have both issued travel advisories against Iran.
  • Before the U.S.-Iran clash in 2018, the tourism sector was experiencing a boom.

Iranian attractions, such as the Ruins of Persepolis and the Persian Garden, are UNESCO World Heritage sites that attract tens of thousands of tourists each year. The coronavirus epidemic and political tensions have, however, devastated the tourism industry. The escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran following the killing of General Qasem Suleimani has, in particular, greatly impacted the sector.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The subsequent Ukraine airliner incident that led to the death of 176 people exacerbated the situation. According to Tourism Minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan, up to 70 percent of flights to Iran from abroad were canceled on short notice in the aftermath of the plane crash.

Countries Issue Warnings about Travel to Iran

The U.S. travel advisory warns citizens about traveling to Iran. It underlines that tourists risk being arrested and detained by Iranian authorities for flimsy reasons and denied consular access. “The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iran,” the notice warns.

Britain has also cautioned its citizens against traveling to Iran. The travel advisory reads in part as follows.

“The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the rest of Iran. However, for British-Iranian dual nationals, the FCO continues to advise against all travel to Iran.

If you’re in Iran, you should consider carefully your need to remain, and if your presence is not essential, you should consider leaving.”

There are 8-9 million tourists from abroad visiting Iran as of 2019. Tourism in Iran is diverse, providing a range of activities from hiking and skiing in the Alborz and Zagros mountains, to beach holidays by the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. The Iranian government has made concerted efforts to attract tourists to the various destinations in the country and arrivals have increased in recent years.

According to local reports, many hotels in the holy city of Mashhad lack guests. Most of them mainly cater to Shiite pilgrims who visit from across the region. Many European trip organizers also reveal a sharp decline in bookings. Tours that have yet to be canceled have been postponed to September.

Iran is a resource-rich country but is sanctioned for its controversial nuclear program. The government has, therefore, strived to boost tourism. It had set a goal to attract at least 20 million tourists a year by 2025 to diversify revenue sources and become less dependent on sectors such as the oil industry. The oil trade is usually targeted when there’s a fallout with the United States.

Before the U.S.-Iran clash in 2018, the tourism sector was experiencing a boom. According to data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), approximately 7.29 million foreign visitors traveled to Iran in 2018. This was about 50 percent more than in 2017.

The coronavirus outbreak in the country is additionally a major cause for concern among tourists and has contributed greatly to the decline in inbound tours. Many countries have warned their citizens against traveling to the state for this reason.

There are already 388 confirmed coronavirus cases. Thirty-four people have died from the ailment. The current mortality rate in the country is estimated to be between eight and eighteen percent, the highest in the world. China’s mortality rate currently stands at three percent.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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