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Given the sharp decline in oil prices over the past 18 months, investing in Iran’s tourism industry is the demand of economic sense, according to an Iranian businessman.
“Every inbound tourist spends the equivalent of what 80 barrels of oil fetch,” Davoud Nadim, secretary of the Investment Board of Iranian Metropolises, said at a business conference in Zanjan on Wednesday.
He claimed that if Iran managed to attract 15,000 foreign tourists a day, “we might as well close our oil wells.”
Attracting 15,000 tourists a day means 5.47 million a year — slightly above the current five million inbound travelers — rendering Nadim’s target achievable.
Iran’s goal is to draw 20 million tourists a year by 2025.
Since the oil plunge began in the summer of 2014, officials and businesses wonder how long and deep the slide will be as crude fell from above $100 to below $40, and is poised to languish below $30 if the doom and gloom sayers turn out to be on course.
With the landmark December climate change deal signed in Paris, which targets carbon neutrality by the end of the century, the oil industry may be unable to stage a comeback anytime soon.
Tourism, on the other hand, continues to grow and generated $7.6 trillion in 2014 — accounting for 9.8% of global GDP — and it is estimated to have grown by 3.5% to $7.8 trillion in 2015 (data for last year not yet available).
Whereas human activity and especially the oil sector are largely blamed for exacerbating climate change, which threatens life on Earth as we know it, tourism can help save nature and mitigate the effects of global warming.
Environmental degradation and climate change have the potential to dramatically disrupt general tourism patterns and do considerable damage to particular destinations. Rising sea levels, desertification, and changing weather patterns have the potential to damage or destroy the very elements that attract tourists.
As a result, tourism and environmental sustainability are fast becoming natural partners, their agendas increasingly intertwined. No other industry has to tread the fine line of environmentally-friendly growth as carefully as the tourism industry; in fact, some may argue, no other industry has as much to gain or to lose.