Iran has not achieved its target of drawing a large number of Chinese tourists, as it only attracts 80,000 of the country's 130 million traveling worldwide annually, an official at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said.
"Besides, a large number of Chinese travelers enter the country for business purposes and are not considered real tourists," Hossein Khalifi, ICHHTO's representative in Shanghai, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Statistics show that Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, USA and France were among the top destinations of Chinese travelers.
Although Iran has managed to become a safe destination for the Chinese since 2011, it has not made it to the country's top 20 destinations yet.
"It appears that the world has a rather false image of Iran, which is formed by a number of factors, including its location in a troubled region," the official said.
"Chinese are among sensitive people whose decision to travel is easily affected by minor incidents."
Khalifi noted that tourism officials must make efforts to clear up misunderstandings by further introducing the country's tourist attractions and assuring the world about security in Iran.
Iran has successfully attended international tourism events to strengthen ties with other countries, including China.
"Such relations with China have resulted in attracting investors to hotel construction, solar power plant, rail and road sectors," he said.
Iran's low share of the Asian country's tourism market has also been attributed to its inadequate lodging facilities, the small number of Chinese restaurants and the absence of people speaking the Chinese language.
Experts believe Iran's shortcoming in meeting these requirements has driven Chinese tourists to open illegal lodging places and seek help from their compatriots as travel guides.
Although the number of Chinese tourists to Iran is expected to rise in the near future, the high cost of travel is considered an obstacle.
Source: Financial Tribune