1221 GMT November 17, 2019
The number of tourists to the western Iranian province of Lorestan suffered a fourfold decrease due to floods during March 21-April 2, concurrent with Norouz holidays marking the New Year in Iran, said an official.
During the same period last year, 3.7 million tourists visited the province, Lorestan’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization director general told Iran Daily.
This year’s figure dropped to 905,000 due to the natural disaster, Seyyed Amin Qassemi regretted.
Unprecedented floods hit western and southwestern Iran after record rainfalls, killing 76 people and injuring hundreds more.
According to Qassemi, 309,000 tourists stayed at the province’s hotels and lodging houses during the holidays this year, showing a 60 percent drop when compared to 796,000 in its preceding year.
He noted that prior to the flooding, the number of foreign visitors to the province was following an increasing trend year-on-year, showing a 10 percent rise on average compared to the same time span a year ago.
However, following the heavy rainfall that started to hit the province on March 25, the number of visitors suffered a 70 percent decline year-on-year during the eight-day period to April 2.
“The number of tourists visiting Falak-ol-Aflak Castle, one of the province’s most visited historical sites, set an all-time one-day record on March 24, as the fort hosted 17,500 visitors on the same day. The figure stood at 15,000 in the same period last year.”
He added that the deluge has caused over $11.9 million of damage to Lorestan’s historical sites in three separate stages.
The flooding damaged a total of 70 historical sites in Lorestan including bridges and overpasses as well as historical castles, houses and fabric.”
Qassemi explained that the floods also caused $1.6 million of damage to the province’s handicraft workshops and home occupations.
He added the flooding also inflicted a damage of $3.5 million to Lorestan’s tourism infrastructure such as roads leading to tourist attractions as well as electricity and water installations in areas surrounding the province’s tourist centers.
Qassemi put the cost of damage to the province’s private sector and those involved in its tourism industry at $595,000, adding hotel and train ticket cancelations also cost Lorestan $714,000.
“Falak-ol-Aflak Castle suffered the greatest damage among the province’s historical sites as the flooding caused part of the hill on which the structure is located to collapse and now the fort is on the verge of suffering great damage.”
In case this part of the hill is not restored as soon as possible, the foundations of the castle will soon suffer severe damage, he warned.
Qassemi noted that his organization has implemented a number of preventive measures to avoid further damage to the castle and the hill in case of further precipitation.