MUSCAT: An Islamic tourist cruise connecting Iran, Muscat, Salalah and Mumbai is expected to be launched in 2016, said a representative of an Iranian shipping company.
An initiative is being studied with the support of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation to launch an Islamic leisurely cruise, Abdolhossein Khedri, chairman of Khedri Jahan Darya Company, told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview.
Khedri Jahan Darya Company, which is affiliated with Marine Silk Road Holding, has been providing the first-ever regular direct shipping services for cargo transport between Iran and Oman following an agreement signed between the company and Iranian and Omani authorities.
Each planned cruise journey is expected to take around seven to 10 days catering to both Iranian and Omani tourists, Khedri said during Iran’s second solo exhibition, which was held in Muscat from January 26 to 30.
Asked if the company plans to launch any passenger transport services between Iran and Oman, the official said that it has been invited to do so but the issue is that Omani vessels are very expensive and their fuel consumption is high.
So it would not be economical to use them for the transport of passengers between the two countries, he noted, adding that the company had decided to participate in the exhibition to use it as a platform to promote Iran’s tourism, with the permission it has received from the Iranian government.
There is no doubt that Iran has great tourism potential but still many attractions in Iran, especially those which would be interesting for Omanis, are still unknown to them, he added.
According to him, the company had sought to introduce such places in the Muscat exhibition through the distribution of booklets written in Arabic and English among the visitors.
For example, visiting Persepolis is important for European tourists but it may not be that interesting for an Omani visitor, said the chairman of Khedri Jahan Darya Company.
Dizin ski resort
An Omani tourist would find the northern parts of Iran or places such as Dizin ski resort much more fascinating, Khedri explained. The northern parts of Iran near the Caspian Sea, which is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, are famous for their dense forests, impressive sea shores and spectacular mountains.
Dizin ski resort is one of the best and most popular ski resorts for sports enthusiasts in Iran, which is located in the Alborz mountain range.
Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, chairman of Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency, which is affiliated with Marine Silk Road Holding, also believes that ski resorts in Iran would be appealing for many Omani tourists.
Other popular places to visit include hot springs in northern or western Iran, he said.
Hot springs in Iran has been drawing many visitors, especially those looking for traditional hydrotherapy.
Medical, religious tourism
Mohammadzadeh said that Iran has a huge tourism potential, not only in the field of leisure tourism but also medical and religious tourism given its many tourist attractions, religious sites and good hospitals and medical professionals.
However, he believes that Iran’s tourism potential has still remained untapped and should be promoted further. The official said that Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency is much more than just an agency as it is seeking to open new markets in the tourism sector.
Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency is currently the representative of liner shipping services between Iran and Oman offering various services.
Mohammadzadeh said that the company is supposed to become an Iranian ‘ambassador’ in Oman with the support of the concerned authorities in Iran with the aim of introducing existing opportunities to both Iranians and Omanis, especially in various branches of tourism.
According to the Iranian embassy in Muscat, the flow of tourists from Iran to Oman increased by around 10 per cent in the previous year and the number of Iranian visas issued to Omanis showed an increase of around 37 per cent.
Oman Air flights
Oman Air has added a second daily flight to Tehran and there are plans to launch flights between Oman and the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Shiraz, the embassy has said.
Oman Air recently announced that it plans to increase the number of flights to Tehran.
Iran is known as the country of four seasons. At any time of the year, people can enjoy one of the four seasons in different parts of the country.
Apart from its majestic natural landscapes ranging from the shores of the Caspian Sea in the north to the coasts of the Gulf in the south, Iran has a number of unique cultural sites registered on the UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) list of world heritage sites, reflecting the country’s rich and ancient history.
Some of these sites include Persepolis, Takht-e Soleyman, Bisotun, Golestan Palace, Pasargadae, Shahr-e Sukhteh, Chogha Zanbil and Jameh Mosque of Isfahan.