Iran has voted for a significant increase in its national tourism budget for 2022.
The national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year (starting on March 21, 2022) proposed to provide around $511 million the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts.
If fully adopted, the proposed budget would represent an increase of 54% compared to the current year’s budget, according to a statement from the Ministry. Talking to the country’s elected assembly (Majlis), Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared that “on next year’s budget bill, production and employment are the pivots”.
The Islamic Republic expects to further promote tourism as it is considered a major asset for the country’s economic development. In the budget, the government speaks of promoting numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions. UNESCO already lists 26 Iranian sites on its World Heritage list. Among the most prestigious are the Royal Mosque, the Friday Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace in Ispahan. Or the ancient city of Persepolis.
Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourists from 3.6 million in 2016 to 20 million in 2025, according to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.
Iranian handicrafts and medical tourism
Handicraft is another priority in the country’s tourism strategy. The unique geographical location of Iran, which has served as a bridge between the East and the West, together with its diverse climatic conditions and various raw materials available, have caused the flourishing of many arts and crafts in this country, throughout its long history.
Persia, now known as Iran, is famed for the production of textiles, carpets, glazed tiles, ceramics, jewellery, marquetry or enamel objects. With 14 entries, Iran ranks first globally for the number of cities and villages registered by the World Crafts Council.
Important opportunities are also seen for medical tourism in the country. Many experts believe that it is a win-win opportunity both for the country and foreign patients, as they are offered affordable, yet quality treatment while the country gains considerable foreign currency.
The country is one of the major destinations for health tourism in the region, and patients from 55 different nationalities, mostly from neighbouring countries including Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, are seeking to use Iran’s medical services and facilities.
Iran’s two most popular medical tourist cities are Tehran and Mashhad. A variety of services such as surgery for eyes, cardiovascular surgery, orthopaedics, oncology, bone transplantation are available throughout the country.
According to the medical tourism department at Iran’s Ministry of Health, in 2018-2019 Iranian hospitals welcomed almost 70,000 foreign patients resulting in a total spend of around US$1.2 billion. The Iranian government has now set an ambitious goal to attract around two million medical travellers per year.