Tehran – Iran and Slovakia An online meeting was held on Thursday where senior tourism officials, tour operators and hoteliers discussed ways to strengthen tourism ties between the two countries in the post-coronavirus era.

A major priority for the Iranian tourism sector is to restore tourism ties to previous markets and expand into new international markets like Slovakia when the coronavirus crisis ends, Mohammad Qasemi, director of marketing and advertising at the Ministry of Tourism, told IRNA .

Regarding the unique features and characteristics of Iranian tourism as a different destination for visitors from Slovakia, he stressed the need for strengthened private sector relations between the two countries in order to result in the development of efficient bilateral tourism exchanges.

He emphasized the ability of the two countries to do caving, hydrotherapy, skiing as well as national and nature parks, and suggested exchanging successful experiences through training workshops and courses between the two sides.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian official recalled the huge impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on global tourism, adding that the Iranian government had supported travel companies affected by the disease.

The Slovak delegation also welcomed the expansion of relations in the fields of tourism and cultural heritage. In addition, the Slovak Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies (SACKA) agreed to start bilateral tourism once the virus is contained. The two centuries also agreed to draft a memorandum of understanding to lay the groundwork for further collaboration, including family travel for media staff and tour operators.

Last November, the World Tourism Organization announced that international tourist arrivals in Iran fell 72% in the first eight months of 2020 compared to 2019, highlighting the serious impact of COVID-19 as the main factor. The Minister of Heritage, Tourism and Crafts Ali-Asghar Mounesan warned in October that Iranian cultural heritage and tourism will be in a critical position if the crises caused by the coronavirus outbreak persist.

Last August, Mounesan said Iranian tourism has suffered a loss of 12 trillion rials (about $ 2.85 billion) since the coronavirus pandemic broke out. He also noted that the coronavirus pandemic should not completely halt travel. “Corona is a fact, but can the virus stop tourism? Certainly not. For us, the coronavirus is a new crisis management experience that is teaching tourism professionals around the world how to deal with such a disaster, and luckily, governments are turning it into an opportunity for better planning. “

However, optimistic projections suggest that once the coronavirus is contained, Iran will experience a tourism boom as it believes its effects will be temporary and short-lived for a country ranked third fastest tourism destination in 2019. The latest available data shows that eight million tourists were visiting the Islamic Republic in the first ten months of the past Iranian calendar year (beginning March 21, 2019). A year earlier, Iran welcomed around 7.8 million foreigners, an increase of 52.5 percent over the previous year.

The old country includes hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers and mansions, 24 of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As part of the Tourism Vision Plan 2025, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.