TEHRAN – On Sunday, a memorandum of understanding was signed at the provincial level to help develop agritourism in the leafy Golestan, located in northern Iran. Representatives of the Golestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department signed the agreement with the provincial agricultural organization, CHTN reported.
Among other things, the MOU also aims to facilitate the issuance of agrotourism permits to selected farms, the identification and development of tourism capacities in the agricultural industry, the monitoring of the performance of certified farms, training advisory committees and teamwork that will help the agricultural sector attract domestic and foreign tourists, according to the report.
Speaking on the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Provincial Tourism Chief Ahmad Tajari said the MoU aims to advance tourism goals by diversifying different tourism areas according to the needs of tourists, increasing employment, improving rural livelihoods and protecting the legitimacy rights of agricultural users and tourism activists.
The country’s very first agrotourism permit has been issued in Golestan province and this branch of tourism will soon become prosperous throughout the province, he added.
Earlier in July, the official announced that agritourism was expanding in the verdant province of Golestan by launching new tourist farms.
“The province has issued seven agrotourism permits in less than a year, which should attract more tourists.”
Such permits are granted to eligible farm owners in the country to start agro-tourism businesses, with the aim of establishing certain standards with the aim of ensuring the quality of these services in the country.
A total of 720 billion rials ($ 17.1 million at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) has been invested in these tourist farms, which are expected to generate nearly 120 job opportunities, the official added.
As tourism and agriculture are the two axes of development in the province, their combination plays a crucial role in job creation and economic prosperity, especially in the villages, he noted.
Agritourism is a relatively new branch of the travel industry in which tourists stay with locals in rural areas. Farm / ranch recreation refers to activities carried out on private farmland, which may include paid hunting and fishing, overnight stays, educational activities, etc.
Experts believe that in addition to customer service jobs, agrotourism pays special attention to the productive sector, claiming that agrotourism is much more important and convenient than other branches of tourism because it creates a new chain and diversity in production and services.
Agrotourism and nature tourism businesses can include outdoor activities (fishing, hunting, wildlife study, horseback riding), educational experiences (cannery tours, cooking classes or tea or coffee tasting), entertainment (harvest festivals or barn dances), reception services (farm stays, guided tours or outfitting services) and direct sales at the farm (pick-your-own or roadside kiosks).
Agri-tourism is a subset of a larger industry known as rural tourism which includes resorts, off-site farmer’s markets, non-profit farm tours, and other leisure and hospitality businesses that attract visitors to the countryside.
Golestan is said to encompass some 2,500 historical and natural sites, with Gonbad-e Qabus, a thousand-year-old brick tower, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is of great architectural significance as an exemplary and innovative design of architecture from the beginning of the Islamic era.
Accounts say that the majestic tower influenced various later designers of burial towers and other cylindrical memorial structures both in the region and beyond. UNESCO comments that Gonbad-e Qabus is a testament to the cultural exchange between the nomads of Central Asia and the ancient civilization of Iran.
ABU / AFM