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Coronavirus Pushes Iran's Tourism to the Point of No Return

IRAN -- Iranian Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Ali Asghar Munesan (R) looks at the Achaemenid-era clay tablets as are on display at Iran's National Museum in Tehran, October 2, 2019

Ali Asghar Mounesan, Iran's Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, says that if coronavirus-related restrictions persist, the country's tourism industry will be eradicated and all parties involved will be "bankrupt."

Mounesan also announced that he would meet with Iran's Health Minister, Saeed Namaki, to attempt to lift travel bans within the next week.

"To prevent the destruction of the Iranian tourism industry, 'smart and responsible traveling' should replace "do not travel' recommendations," Mounesan said.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has severely damaged an already fledgling industry, Iran's tourism.

Although accurate and up-to-date data on the financial damage to Iranian tourism have not been published, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) reported that at least until May of this year, the industry had already suffered a loss of 38 trillion rials (approximately $902 million).

The country's Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade (MIMT) also singled out tourism-related jobs as one of the most affected coronavirus occupations.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, the Iranian tourism industry was operating slowly and with great difficulty under international sanctions, political disputes, and severe social restrictions.

Rooted in ancient Persian civilization, Iran boasts of being the home to 24 UNESCO-registered World Heritage Sites, a nation that has survived numerous alien invasions and natural disasters over centuries while maintaining its appeal to local and foreign tourists.