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Iran’s tourism chief: Nearly 8 million foreign tourists visited Iran last year

Around eight million foreigners visited Iran in the last Iranian calendar year ending in March 2019, the head of the country’s government department on tourism announced.

“Some 7.8 million foreign tourists arrived in the country last year,” said Ali Asghar Mounessan, adding that the figure shows a 40-percent increase compared to the previous year.

Mounessan, who heads the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran (ICHTO), said each tourists coming to the country spends an average sum of $1,400 during his stay, adding that almost all the money earned from tourists should be viewed as pure income as investment has been very low compared to the revenues generated in the sector.

He said the boom in tourism arrivals and revenues have come despite sanctions imposed by the United States in the past year, adding that major accommodation places across the country have been booked up for months to come.

Mounessan, a deputy president whose department is planned to be turned into a ministry in the coming months, said the government would double the budget earmarked to the tourism and handicraft management as the sectors keep attracting massive foreign currency into the country.

The official also said that Iran eyes $2 billion worth of exports of handicraft, saying that all provinces across the country had huge potentials that could be used to meet the target.

Mounessan said the decision to turn the ICHTO to a ministry would also allow the government to have a better policy for protection of historic monuments and artifacts existing across the country, saying that would further boost arrivals of the tourists who are mainly interested in visiting Iran’s cultural heritage.