Ardabil City of the Islamic Republic of Iran was declared as ECO Tourism Capital for 2023. The event organized on April 27, 2023 was graced by the presence of H.E. Mr. Ezzatollah Zarghami, Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Mr. Seyed Hamed Ameli, Governor of Ardabil Province, ambassadors and diplomats based in Iran, Secretary General of ECO as well as the heads of Iranian Tourism Business Associations.
Inaugurating the festive ceremony, the Governor of Ardabil Province, H.E. Mr. Seyed Hamed Ameli stated that selection of Ardabil as the ECO Tourism Capital 2023 will serve as a gateway to the beginning of extensive communication and cooperation between Ardabil Province and ECO Member Countries in the fields of tourism, economy, agriculture, industry and culture. He highlighted that ECO is considered as the most influential regional organization in various fields playing a significant role in the development of economic, cultural and tourism relations. The Governor General also informed the audience about the huge tourism potential of Ardabil Province and mentioned that the province plays a key role as a gateway between Iran, Russia and the Caucasus region. He also noted the importance of reviving silk road destinations for more tourist attraction into the region.
The ECO Secretary General Ambassador Khusrav Noziri presented a Certificate to the Governor of Ardabil Province regarding the declaration of Ardabil city as the ECO Tourism Capital for 2023. The Secretary General highlighted that being home to 74 UNESCO registered World Heritage Sites, the ECO region is a fascinating tourism destination with its natural endowments, diversity of historical and cultural values as well as evocative memories of the ancient Silk Road.
Recalling the selection of Ardabil as the ECO Tourism Capital for 2023, he expressed that Ardabil is famous for having lush natural beauty, hospitable people, and its silk and carpet trade tradition. Various ancient sites from the pre-Islamic era and many relics of different Islamic dynasties discovered in this province reveal the roots and traces of an ancient civilization in this region while the name of the city is recorded on Sumerian Tablets, depicting the history of about five thousand years, and also repeatedly mentioned in Shahnameh, which establishes the city’s importance in ancient Iran, he remarked.
The Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Mr. Ezzatollah Zarghami congratulated the authorities of Ardabil Province and ECO Secretariat for the successful coordination of the event. Expressing gratitude to ECO Member States for selection of Ardabil as ECO Tourism Capital 2023, he noted that tourism is the best public diplomacy which facilitates interactions between peoples and cultures.
On the sidelines of the event, a joint meeting between tourism stakeholders of ECO Member States, the Secretary General of ECO, Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft of the Islamic Republic of Iran and ambassadors and diplomats of the ECO countries discussed opportunities for enhancing regional interaction and cooperation in the tourism sector.
The delegates also visited Heyran Tourism Village, Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble (World Heritage Site), Shorabil Lake and Nomadic Encampment.