0450 GMT September 16, 2019
A data bank for historical sites of Iran will be established in the near future, said Mohammadreza Pouyandeh, the head of Fund for Renovation and Management of Historical and Cultural Monuments.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, conducted on the sidelines of the 21st International Exhibition of the Press, News Agencies and Information Websites, Pouyandeh said the Fund supports the renovation of historical and valuable monuments purchased by Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).
"More than one million valuable and historical monuments have been identified across the country, most of which are priceless mansions," he said, adding $50 billion are required to renovate the sites.
He said due to financial constraints, the government cannot spend huge amounts on renovating sites.
"The Fund has decided to encourage public and private sector participation in preserving the monuments," Pouyandeh said, adding the proposed data bank for historical sites aims to publicize renovation projects to encourage the involvement of those interested in saving historical sites.
He said certain monuments, in need of renovation, are auctioned by the Fund to raise money for the maintenance of other sites.
"Sixteen monuments have so far been ceded to private investors bringing in about $8 million," he said.
The official added the ownership of historical sites is not handed over to investors, as most of them have been registered on the National Heritage List and are regarded as public properties.
"The private sector can exploit the site for a specific period," he said.
Pouyandeh pointed out that the number of tourists visiting Iran will increase as soon as the sanctions are removed.
"Iran is projected to witness 'a tsunami of tourists' from the US, Europe, and Eastern Asia. The influx can pose challenges to the tourism sector in view of shortage of hotels, accommodation spaces and tourism facilities.
He said most of the foreign tourists are interested in staying in Iranian four- and five-star traditional hotels.
"We can convert historical houses into hotels to cater for more tourists at a given period," he said, calling for greater participation of private investors in the such projects.
Pouyandeh said projects to convert historical houses to hotels can increase employment and contribute to the country's economic development.
The official hoped all valuable historical houses would be ceded to private investors within two years.