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Irans rural tourism eight villages vie for UN recognition

· 3 min read

Iran’s rural tourism: eight villages vie for UN recognition

TEHRAN – As this year’s UN Tourism deadline to submit applications for the best tourism villages evaluation draws near [April 24], Iran has nominated eight most qualified villages to vie for global recognition.

Iran’s rural tourism: eight villages vie for UN recognition

On Saturday, Ali-Asghar Shalbafian, the deputy tourism minister, stated that the initiative proposed by the UN tourism organization, titled "Best Tourism Villages," aims to harness the existing capabilities in the tourism industry to bring about transformation, rural development, and enhance community well-being.

Shalbafian emphasized that the plan aims to preserve the identity and nature of villages, safeguard their cultural diversity and values, and enhance educational systems in rural areas to increase awareness among villagers.

Outlining the prerequisites for candidate villages, including a population of fewer than 15,000, location in naturally distinctive areas, engagement in traditional activities such as agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and fishing, as well as possessing a cohesive community with a shared culture, lifestyle, and values, the deputy minister pointed to the assessment process.

The official delineated that village assessments are based on nine relevant indices aligned with sustainable development goals (SDGs), covering cultural and natural resources, economic stability, social cohesion, environmental sustainability, tourism potential, value chain integration, governance and prioritization of tourism, infrastructure and connectivity along with health and security.

Underscoring the importance of a justification form in village applications, the official pointed to the requirement of villages to elucidate their motivations and initiatives to become global destinations.

Moreover, he mentioned the benefits for selected villages, including the award of a diploma or plaque signed by the Secretary-General of the UN Tourism.

Awarded villages also gain international recognition as outstanding examples of developed rural tourism destinations, according to Shalbafian.

Referring to Iran's participation since 2021 [the very first year of the best village evaluation], he noted that 130 villages were identified countrywide based on UN criteria.

The official further detailed the figure, stating that following consultations in national rural tourism forums and collaboration with executive and supporting institutions, several villages are annually nominated, with Kandovan being the first Iranian village to achieve global registration in 2023.

“In 2024, Iran can submit eight applications,” Shalbafian noted, “with villages such as Abyaneh (Isfahan province), Kandolus (Mazandaran province), Palangan (Kurdistan province), Bisheh (Lorestan province), Meymand (Kerman province), Fahraj (Yazd province), Esfahak (South Khorasan province), and Ghaleh Bala (Semnan province) being highlighted.”

The official also added that Soheli village (Hormozgan province) and Qasemabad (Gilan province) are on the supporting roster.

“Currently, field assessments of these villages are underway,” Shalbafian added, “with strategic tourism development committees being formed in provinces.”

In his concluding remarks, the deputy minister pinpointed that the village’s motivation files are being prepared in collaboration with provincial departments, scheduled for submission to the UN Tourism organization, by the deadline of April 24.