In a long term strategy, tourism industry can be replaced with oil income.
NaftEMA: Tourism industry has gained a paramount role in economic and political developments, and in promoting peace culture and cooperation as well. At the moment, this industry, in terms of income, ranks 3rd in the world after oil and auto industries, respectively, and is going to be first in the future, considering that upon entrance of ten tourists into a country an occupation is created; therefore, it is playing direct and indirect roles in entrepreneurship.
In tourism, Islamic republic of Iran, enjoying natural, historical, and religious attractions etc, can be one of the most important countries in tourist attraction providing the infrastructures are well established.
Given Iran, enjoying potentials of tourism industry such as eco-tourism, health tourism, religious attractions etc, can be one of the determining countries in tourist attraction provided that the infra structures are well established.
Given Iran enjoying potentials of tourism industry such as eco-tourism, health/medical tourism, religious tourism, geo-tourism, commercial tourism etc., and considering intensified conflicts in the west Asia and North Africa, it can be one of the main tourism poles. Iran is enlisted as the first four tourist attractions. National Geographic has recently introduced 16th top tourist destinations in the world for 2016. Among which Iran has been recognized first. This announcement of astonishing ranking shows that the main reason for this success is Iran's attempt to alleviate the sanctions, which has created a wealth of opportunities in terms of tourism and capitalizing on that.
Per the report (2014) by The United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO, the tourism world has witnessed 1.135 billion tourists with the income of $ 1.5 Trillion.
Islamic republic of Iran, has occupied the first rank with 24.4% increase in foreign tourists' growth in 2013, because of attracting 5 million tourists compared with 2012, with the international ranking of 48 in general, which led the UNWTO to reconsider a review over its estimation of 2020 regarding Iran, where according to this organization's estimation in 2010, Iranian tourism industry within 10 years (2010-2020) was supposed to be announced bankrupt.
Tourism industry accounts for %3.5 of the Iran’s GDP, whereas world average is between 8-10 percent. Aforementioned statistics can prepare the ground for foreign investments in Iran's tourism industry, as some of them have indicated interest in this regard.
As Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, has asserted, "industry section is the vanguard of economic development of the country, and tourism is not an exception", a fact of which other officials are aware, too.
Necessary to mention, Islamic educational, scientific, and cultural organization (ISESCO)has selected Mash'had as cultural capital of Islamic world in 2017 and Tabriz as a sample city for tourism in 2018; therefore; these selections can play a significant role in cultural and religious diplomacy and in exporting the discourse of the Islamic revolution in order that bring integrity and unity to Islamic world.
Doubtlessly, tourism industry can promote public diplomacy along with formal diplomacy of tourism can have an undeniable role in securing national interests while activating both private and governmental sectors along with each other. In a long term strategy, tourism industry can be replaced with oil income, while we must not ignore national tourism branding.
*Director of “Naphtha Center for Energy’s International & Strategic Studies (NCEISS) and PhD. Candidate of International Relations