Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has selected the north-western Iranian city of Tabriz as a centre of tourism and cultural heritage studies along the Silk Road.

Head of Tourism Department at Tabriz Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Farshad Rostami, said, “In a meeting of JICA, Tabriz was selected as a centre of tourism and cultural heritage studies along the Silk Road.”

During the meeting, the spokesperson of JICA referred to the studies conducted by the agency, saying among the cities of Ahvaz, Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd and Tabriz which are located along the two corridors of Ancient Civilization and the Silk Road, JICA has selected the city of Tabriz as a tourism and cultural heritage studies centre, a Farsi report by the Mehr News Agency quoted Rostami as saying.

“Given the presence of globally registered ancient sites in its neighbouring provinces, Tabriz and its tourist sites will be studied as part of a larger tourism project by JICA in the region.”

He also referred to the huge tourist capacities of Tabriz 2018 international event, saying the event can pave the way for attracting further tourists to the region.

For his part, Akira Ohara, a senior fellow researcher at JICA, congratulated the Iranian officials on the selection of Tabriz as the centre of tourism studies along the Silk Road, and added since long time ago, Tabriz has been viewed as a channel connecting Europe and East Asia.

“Meanwhile, the country enjoys a great capacity for the development of its historical and cultural tourism section.”

Ohara referred to the tourist attractions of Tabriz like Kandovan village as well as its eco-tourism capacities as the main criteria taken into account by JICA members.

He called for the participation of public associations in the implementation of the tourism plans in the city and added raising public awareness about the tourism capacities of Tabriz is highly important.

Ohara said holding some training courses for the people as well as launching some fundamental and infrastructural projects to further develop the tourist capacities of the city can significantly contribute to the projects to attract further tourists to the city.

The Japanese researcher also said establishing direct flight to Tabriz from around the world will connect the city to an international network of tourist destinations. He then said ground and rail connections to the network are also important.

A team from JICA is set to visit Tabriz’s historical as well as cultural and natural sites in the coming days. The visit follows their earlier visit to the city last month aimed at evaluation the tourism capacities of Tabriz.

The Iranian city of Tabriz in East Azarbaijan Province has been selected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the 2018 capital of Islamic Tourism, and the entire Iran is now getting prepared to host the highest number of tourists through the project Tabriz 2018.

Tabriz hosts a number of famed religious sites, including Grand Mosque and Tabriz Citadel, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tabriz Bazaar. It has been declared a World Craft City by the World Craft Council, which, along with Isfahan, makes it one of Iran’s only two cities to boast the title.