Recommendations for improving the trade balance of the tourism sector in Iran

Due to its strong forward and backward linkages and job creating nature, as well as positive functions effective on economic growth, the tourism industry can play an effective role in the economy, and the Iranian economic policy makers and planners are accordingly focusing on recreational, industrial, mineral, cultural, medical, and religious tourism.

Since tourism industry can become the most important source of foreign exchange earnings for countries with tourism attractions such as Iran, in order to adopt appropriate policies in this sector to protect and promote tourism exports, there is a great need to examine the status of exports and imports and provide appropriate solutions for improving the trade balance of the sector. The major findings of this report include:

- In recent years, the earning associated with foreign tourist inflow to the country has always been less than the expenditures corresponding to national tourist outflow, in such a manner that the deficit in trade balance of tourism sector in some recent years has reached 8 billion Dollars. The adoption of inappropriate policies, lack of required infrastructures and provision of low quality services in this sector are among the reasons for the negative trade balance.

- The allocation of 300 Dollars with preferential exchange rates for every Iranian national above twelve years of age departing the country and the collection of departure duties of 750,000 Rials (about 20 Dollars) per passenger _ which, by the way, is much less than many countries _ is one of the policies contributing to the negative trade balance of the tourism sector in Iran.

In this context, the correction of the two above-mentioned problems in order to reduce the imports of tourism and to allocate the proceeds of the tourism earnings to investment in the tourism sector infrastructures and hence the promotion of tourism exports and improvement of the trade balance of the sector, is highly recommended. Considering the importance of mines in the country and their possible attractiveness to tourists, it is recommended that investments be made in mineral tourism plans in order to widely publicize these sites and promote mineral tourism.

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