Described as “a pearl that shines” in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s Kish Island is hoping to lure tourists during the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Direct flights from Iran’s Kish Island to Doha is scheduled to be launched in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup 2022, in order to expand Iran’s tourism arm.
As the two countries in the Persian Gulf sign an agreement to carry out 400 flights and four cruise ships to be navigated from Kish to Doha, Iran and Qatar are seen cooperating on the touristic field, according to Saeed Mohammad, the Secretary of the Supreme Council of Free Trade and Special Economic Zones of Iran. His remarks come following President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Qatar last month.
The Iranian diplomat noted that the country’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts aims to host around 100,000 tourists for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and plans to provide services and facilities in order to cater to the potential influx of visitors.
The finalising touches of the Kish Airport and the increase of five-star hotels from 10 to 15 in the island, along with the construction of two football fields were all part of the development to attract World Cup tourists.
Iranian officials noted that revenues from the tourism industry had reached $11.7 billion in 2019, accounting for 2.8 percent of Iran’s total GDP. Iran was also ranked as the second fastest-growing country in tourism by the World Tourism Organization in the same year.
‘Iranophobia’ sentiments affect tourism
Experts have expressed that Iran’s tourism is struggling under Western “media war” that isolates the country further with potential travellers feeling discouraged, reports said.
The World Cup 2022 is a “significant opportunity to represent the true face of Iran by efforts to dwindle the so-called anti-Iranian sentiments,” the Iran’s Deputy Tourism Minister, Ali Asghar Shalbafian emphasised.
Experts say that tourism in Iran had already faced a plummeting effect before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, media biases and ‘Iranophobia’ rhetoric have also contributed to the drop in tourism and foreign investment in the Islamic Republic.