Interview with Mohsen Ghaderi, CEO of Zhivar
Mohsen Ghaderi, CEO of Zhivar Tourism Company, believes that if we plan properly, Iranian tourism can be revived. He has a positive view of international events and emphasizes that if we move forward with events such as the Dubai Expo, we can see a revolution in the business and tourism industry after the corona. We talked to him about the viable strategies for survival and growth in the hard corona roses and, of course, the future plans of this business.
- What is the problem of Iranian tourism today? How much did the agencies suffer after the coronation spread?
The injuries that occurred due to coronary artery were universal, but it is important why these injuries occurred deeply in our country. The most important reason is that our tourism businesses have no resilience and are destroyed by similar events like Corona.
These businesses cannot use their financial reserves in critical situations because they do not have such reserves at all, for example, for two or three years. Now we have to look at why this is the case. In my opinion, the issuance of unaccounted for book licenses is one of the main reasons. By obtaining these permits, non-specialists become members of the tourism body and fail because they do not have strong roots, otherwise things could have been done in the same Corona.
For example, holding domestic tours was not an obstacle and the way was open. Even if we assumed that this obstacle existed and domestic tours could not be held, they could train their forces and prepare them for the post-Corona era. These young activists, who had neither expertise nor financial resources, took a passive approach, and eventually put more pressure on the entire agency community.
Regarding the problems facing tourism in Iran, I must say that the main problem is that the government does not consider tourism as a business and defines it as a cultural component. The cultural component cannot be business, but we believe that tourism is an economy and a business. This industry is very lucrative and attractive, and our country has a lot of potential. The first step is for the government to see tourism through economic lenses and to provide the necessary infrastructure. Mobilize all monitoring devices and organs to cause a tourism revolution in Iran.
The next problem is that tourism has been the political hub of the country from the beginning. That is, the political shifts that are taking place have affected this area. We hope to see less of these issues during Mr. Zarghami’s tenure and for experts to come to work. We have a lot of scientists and carpenters in the field of tourism in our country, it is enough to identify them and work in the new government without tension and margins.
In our opinion, when we work in the field of tourism, someone who has a doctorate in tourism should not work in the field of operations, because their place is in the university and they can help more in the supervisory departments. They have not been operational and cannot become the body of the tourism industry. Unfortunately, the situation is different in the choices that are made, and more scholars and respected university professors who do educational work are used than those who have more operational experience.
Another big problem is that different parts of the industry do not cooperate with each other. This has also happened in tourism events. If in an event such as the Dubai Expo, a pavilion is dedicated to Iran, it should be shared publicly with all activists in this field and everyone should use it to witness a completely healthy competitive market.
As a result, the private sector thinks that the governments are not helping them and that they are pursuing their own interests wherever they enter. The private sector sees the government as a rival and does not see it as a compassionate and facilitator. At least in my mind I work in the private sector.
Another problem goes back to health officials, who, like the other problems I mentioned earlier, blame the policy area on. Wrong decisions made to control the corona virus have led other countries to see Iran as a red and perhaps black region. I think that at the moment only France has opened its borders to the Iranians. We now need to show the world that Iran is safe and the situation is white for tourists.
Another major problem is the unfiltered licensing of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. Prior to Corona, more than 4,000 B-licenses were issued, of which about 1,500 were related to the Office of Tourism Services. Evaluations should be based on a standard, not on the fact that everyone can enter the field with the smallest rent and slow down these small developments due to their dysfunctions. Our country does not need a few thousand tourist offices, but 500 specialized offices can bring the best results.
We need to change the image of Iran. For example, people in many European countries think that Iran is an Arab country. All that has happened is a reflection of the wrong decisions that have been made so far.
Tourism should have a single trustee, not several different institutions. Many agencies now have their own airline agency and tourism unit. They all claim; Universities, municipalities and ministries all want to be involved in this industry and they claim, and I am sure that good things will not happen in the country if this practice continues.
- What do you think is the way to success in inbound tourism?
First of all, having a professional website with expert staff is very important. Inbound tourism has a lot to do with cross-border communication, forces need to be multilingual, know the area well and know how to communicate. In addition to the site’s expert staff, it should be attractive to foreign tourists and, of course, practical to be able to use the services of that company.
Multiple follow-ups are very important. Tourists, especially European tourists, trust too late, so when they see a group or country being pursued, they feel more comfortable and can trust them. This pursuit requires strong language and communication.
- In the meantime, how effective can a visa and its easy issuance be?
Visa facilities are another thing that can increase the presence of foreign tourists in the country. If we can facilitate the visa process for individuals or groups coming to Iran, we will see more tourists in the country. We do not agree at all with the abolition of visas, even for the people of the region, because the lack of visas destroys the transparency of the tourist presence, but we need to facilitate the issuance process.
- What role do you think the private sector can play in reviving tourism?
Before answering this question, I must say that the term revitalization is not very accurate about tourism because the corona problem is universal and therefore it is better to use the word “resumption”. In order for the tourism industry to resume, all institutions, whether in the public, private, capital or city sectors, must unite and follow a specific policy.
Tour leaders have a significant role in creating a good feeling in the tourist. With the information they have, they can create a high attraction for tourists, and the relationship they have to establish with foreign tourists makes their task sensitive. Therefore, we must support them and consider various facilities for them.
Proper pricing and honesty with the tourist are very important. It is true that foreign tourists spend much less money in Iran than in many other countries, but this should not be a reason for unreasonable price increases. The tourist sees these and measures Iran according to all these criteria, and the slightest bad feeling and slipping in the services may destroy the tourist’s trust forever.
The private sector needs to attract credit, but it is difficult to do so. The private sector knows a lot about its work; From attracting foreign tourists to holding quality tours and inviting influencers for advertising. The private sector sees the exhibitions as an opportunity and tries to provide many facilities to increase the country’s tourism potential.
- In your opinion, how can Dubai Expo 2020 be an opportunity for the growth of tourism in Iran?
What we are going to see at the Dubai Expo is the presence of nearly 30 million tourists in Iran’s neighborhood, and this is considered the best opportunity to introduce the country as well as possible. I have the experience of attending the Milan Expo 2015 and I have seen well the problems that existed in our country from that event.
The basis of many countries in introducing themselves is the use of cultural and historical symbols. Egypt, for example, did it well. There was a completely different situation for our country. We did not use Iranian architecture or the cultural and historical symbols of our country, which is 2500 years old.
In my opinion, the expo event is even more important than events such as the World Cup and other sporting events. Because all nations with very different cultures are present in it and show the color and appearance of their society in the showcase of the booths they have. Therefore, there is no better opportunity than for a country to use these conditions intelligently and be able to have the highest efficiency.
Iran has an area of 2,000 meters and for the tourist pavilion is approximately 60 meters. The most favorable situation was to increase the number and quality of the presence of the country’s activists by having more space. Overall presence and planning is the key to our success that we have lost so far because the planning had to be done a year ago when we made our strategy clearer and more targeted. Even there are still serious shortcomings in the website of Expo Iran. For example, there is no picture of the booths, but in any case, we have to see the half-full glass now. The important thing is that in this event, every point that is supposed to be given is done in the same way and it is not the case that one company gets less and another company gets more benefits.
Activists attending the expo must both make the most of these six months and have a longer-term vision. In this way, to establish favorable relations with activists in other countries and be able to make them a long-term customer.
If we want to use propaganda as well, the best place in the advertising section is to invite bloggers, celebrities and celebrities to attend the event. All we have to do is introduce Iran as a safe and beautiful country in the minds of the people of different countries by providing different conditions.
We must shape our tourism brand and have a slogan in the world. All devices should promote this brand because the closest opportunity is Dubai Expo 2020. All Iranian consulates and cultural offices abroad must be mobilized to prepare us for a tourism revolution.
- In particular, how can travel agencies benefit from Expo 2020 Dubai?
They must first know this event well and then show themselves as much as they can. The more they can dazzle the tourists who come to this event during this six-month period, the more successful they have been. Investing is income, not expense, and my advice to all agencies and, of course, other areas participating in the expo is to plan financially as much as they can and not be afraid to spend. These costs are all investments that pay off in the short and long term.
How should agencies like Zivar, which are well-established and large, operate at Expo Dubai 2020?
The image that big agencies paint of Iran is very important because they attract more attention. It can even be said that the presence of these agencies has a more important result than the presence of the entire Iranian pavilion.
Because Pione Iran has nothing to do with Iran’s tourism strategy and does its job. The experience and experience of large agencies lead them to better performance because they have modeled, tried and tested from similar examples around the world, and know where to go.
- As the CEO of Zhivar, which is one of the well-known tourism agencies in Iran, how do you see the planning of travel agencies for the coming months, considering the rapid process of vaccination in Iran and the world? What investments are best to make?
I can only say about Zhivar and I do not know the plans of other companies. In today’s tourism, we may not have a large population tour like before, but the number of tours with small groups and less population is increasing. We have started holding these types of tours recently and we are holding the tours with great caution. Most of people’s savings are spent on travel and tourism. Traveling is not like it used to be, and today the existence of startups has led travel planning to more interaction with them. In this way, travel lovers can receive all services online without the need for physical presence. That’s why we’ve increased our engagement with startups.
Even the new staff we add to our team is not a normal workforce like the previous one and should have IT specialties, digital marketing, content production and so on.
Zhivar Company was most active in the field of health tourism during the Corona period. For more than a year, the State Department has issued a “T” visa related to health. Zhivar was able to use this visa to serve more than five hundred people.
Health tourism is booming after the corona. I do not consider this boom as a result of the policy-making of decision-makers, and in my opinion, the fall in the value of the country’s currency and the increase in the number and quality of medical services are the main reasons for this boom. These two reasons have caused many citizens of the region to come to Iran and use the medical services of our country, which is globally and sometimes higher than many countries. Many people come to Iran from Iraq, Oman, Qatar and other countries in the Persian Gulf, as well as from English-speaking and European countries.
Most of our energy has been spent on health tourism during the Corona, and we still have a lot of work to do. For example, a new idea that we have in the field of incoming tourism is that in the form of designing various tour packages, we dedicate a section to introducing Iranian health tourism.
The private sector is doing its job to promote health tourism, and if the public sector can come together and facilitate the way with appropriate strategies, Iran will become a health tourism hub. In this case, it can overtake Turkey, the UAE and India.
Recent changes in Afghanistan are considered a threat to Iranian tourism, and because of our border sharing, the influx of tourists to Iran is affected, but the more the Taliban government can increase security and stability in Afghanistan, the more Iranian tourism will be affected.
Another program we have for after Corona is Event Tourism, a live example of which is, for example, the World Expo 2020. There are many religious, commercial, nature and cultural events in our country. All of these areas can be considered as a package to be presented together. We will have a similar experience at one of the events taking place in Tehran, where we have prepared a complete package for Chinese tourists.
We have about 2,000 Chinese students, and it is very attractive for them to attend these exhibitions. Our complete package includes booths, stand-up arrangements, setting up appointments, translation, catering, transportation, hotel, visa and other sections that facilitate the presence of tourists.