www.tehrantimes.com The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungâ€™s young editor Oliver Hahn moved his glasses and said, â€śIran is not what I used to think it was. What I see now is quite different than my previous image.â€ť
Hahn is not the only person saying this. His Chinese friend, who is a student studying Persian in Tehran, the young Colombian Anna Maria, as well as Danish worker Jop had the same experience, the Persian service of CHN reported on Wednesday.
They believe that Iran has changed, but the changes are not reflected in the world media. Hahn said that his image of Iran was what he heard from the world media.
They have no direct representatives in Iran, but use indirect reported news, he added. Denmark is one of the countries from which hardly any tourists visit Iran. Danish worker Jop expressed surprise at this fact, saying, â€śIran is a very safe country. I have traveled to many countries like Colombia, Russia, Zaire, and the Dominican Republic, but I have hardly seen any place as safe as Iran. In Columbia, one can not go out at night; in Russia there are dangerous gangs threatening tourists; and in the Dominican Republic, I was robbed.â€ť
Laurence, a friend of Jop, who had traveled to Iran thirty years ago, said, â€śMany things have changed in Iran. Iranians might have returned to their old style of dress and ideology, but their lifestyle has developed over the last thirty years. There are also declines here and there, of course.â€ť When Xue Tao of China told his friends that he was planning to travel to Iran, they tried to stop him, saying, â€śIran is a dangerous country, it is better to choose a more secure region.â€ť But he did not change his decision, and he was happy about that.
He explained, â€śThe people of China know Iran through four things: Imam Khomeini, the Iran-Iraq war, the football players, and nuclear activities. They have no clear image of Iran, and of course there was not much information about Iran available. I thought Iranian people would be very religious and interested in politics, but when I saw the people in Isfahan near the Zayanderud sitting and enjoying themselves, I was surprised.â€ť
Caroline, a Russian tourist who was visiting Iran for the second time, said that Iran is much safer than in previous years.
Iranian tourist official Akbar Ghamkhar believes that good publicity can eliminate the worldâ€™s wrong images about Iran. But publicity requires serious funding and correct planning, which should be carried out only by the government, he added.
The first step is to establish tourist agencies in the target countries to encourage foreign tourists to visit Iran, he said, adding that fifty-two different countries have set up tourist offices in Japan.
Former director of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) Hossein Marashi had once announced at a press conference that a sum of 15 billion rials had been allocated to publicize Iran through international television networks in the Iranian calendar year of 1384 (March 2005-March 2006), and added that the organization was trying to show the real image of Iran to the world.
According to the latest CHTO statistics, about 700,000 tourists visited Iran during the last Iranian calendar year, and the rate increased during the first three months of the current year. CHTO official Ahad Qazaii believes that the recent rise means that Iranâ€™s publicity and marketing in foreign countries is being conducted seriously.
â€śWe are confronting a difficult task compared to other countries, in that we have to eliminate the negative image of Iran in the world,â€ť he noted. Tourism has only been developed in Iran since the idea of dialogue among civilizations was introduced by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami at the United Nations headquarters in New York, he said in conclusion