TRAVEL NEWS: Iran – Home of the World’s First Travel Documentary – Becomes More Moderate, Focuses on Tourism

World’s First Travel Documentary Comes Out of Iran

In the 1950s, the Omidvar brothers from Iran travelled the Congo, the Arctic and the Andes on motorbikes and in a 2CV. The recently rediscovered film of their trip will be shown at next month’s Adventure Travel Film Festival.


It would take a brave soul to set out today on a 10-year journey around the world on a motorbike, a journey that deliberately passed through places that include Congo, the Arctic Circle and the entire length of the Andes. That is exactly what the Omidvar brothers from Tehran did back in 1954. Throwing their film-making kit on their bikes and with just $90 each to spend, they set out to see the most remote people they could possibly find. En route they created a visual record that is now a milestone in film history, a documentary record of a vanished world: peoples, cultures and even entire countries that no longer exist.

Heading east they first passed through Pakistan, India, south-east Asia and Australia, eventually crossing the Pacific and heading up through Alaska and Canada into the Arctic. A vast sweep all across and down the Americas ended with a trip to Antarctica then, after a brief trip home, a new round of exploration in a 2CV, which they drove through Africa, somehow managing to get the vehicle through the Congo and the formidable barrier of the Ituri forest.

The films they made along the way are full of the wonder and excitement of exploration. They also bring an interesting counterpoint to a visual media that was, at the time, dominated by America and Europe. While the rest of the world was racing to modernity and feeling smugly superior to so-called primitive peoples, Abdullah and Issa Omidvar had an easy affinity and respect for those they met, something that gave them unique access to sights and sounds that were soon to be lost. What we also see is a world in a far better condition than might be imagined: forests seem endless, remote people seem happier and more secure in their lives; it is a world before globalisation, and a place cleaner and far less hectic

To read the full article in The Guardian, click here,


Iran Elects Centrist President, Vows to End Extremism

TEHRAN, Iran — Centrist Hasan Rowhani won an absolute majority in Iran’s presidential elections, a surprise outcome that could help raise spirits in a population fed up by the economic distress and international isolation that marked the era of outgoing leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The ministry of the interior said Rowhani, a Shiite Muslim cleric, won some 18.6 million votes, nearly 51 per cent of the vote in a six-man field, three times the tally for runner-up Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran, who received only 6.1 million. In third place was nuclear arms negotiator Saeed Jalili, who got just 4.1 million votes.

The U.S. government lauded the Iranian people for making a choice amidst heavy government censorship.  “We are talking about running a country, not a police station,” he declared to shouts and chants.  I promise all of you that the era of extremism will end,” Rowhani said.

Read the full article here.


Iran: New Regime to Increase Tourism

Kish, Iran: Iran’s president-elect, the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani, has promised to support the country’s largely untapped tourism sector.  Dr Rouhani has been adamant about the importance of tourism to Iran’s economic growth, and since being elected, he has set a goal of more than doubling, to 10 million, the number of foreigners who visit Iran each year. Such an increase, over the current level of 4 million tourists, would “create jobs for 4 million people, solving the problem of 3.5 million unemployed people in this country,” Dr Rouhani has said.

On Kish, an island in the Persian Gulf just off Iran’s mainland that is a favorite domestic destination of Iranians, developers have been waiting for years for an administration that is serious about tapping the country’s tourist potential.

The island is home to dozens of high-end construction projects, including hotels and shopping malls, and already attracts more than a million visitors each year, but like at other Iranian tourist destinations, visitors are overwhelmingly Iranian.

“We have to prepare the infrastructure and plan for an increase of tourists. It will take at least a decade for us to become an international destination,” said Mahan Modaven, a marketing consultant at the Kish branch of Iran’s tourism ministry.

Despite enduring perceptions of Iran as unsafe, the country experienced a 25 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to Manoucher Jahanina, Iran’s deputy tourism minister. The 4 million foreign visitors produced more than $US8 billion ($8.8 billion) in tourism revenue, he said.

In the steamy heat that soars well past 100 degrees at this time of year, Kish’s 16th annual Summer Festival is in full swing, with daily concerts and dance shows at sunset next to the island’s top tourist attraction, the Greek Ship, a rusting cargo vessel that was stranded just off the island’s shore in 1966.

For about a dollar a ride, a speedboat delights passengers by circling dangerously close to the wreck. Camel and horse rides are also available. Kurdish men dressed in their trademark baggy pants dance to traditional music, and enormous tortoises swim just beneath the water’s surface, periodically coming up for air to a sea of waiting flashbulbs.

Tourism-industry professionals here sense the possibility.

To read more, click here.


Editors note: Original World offers tours to Iran in Spring and Fall.


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