2012: Iranian tourist guides celebrated 21st of February in harmony with UNWTO’s theme
Tourist guide; a bridge among cultures
The 5th world tourist guide day celebration was held in Khuzestan province from 19th to 21st of February by the presence of more than 450 tourist guides from all over Iran. They were from West and East Azerbaijan, Ardebil, Kordestan, Kermanshah, Zanjan, Hamedan, Ilam, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan, Semnan, Razavi Khorasan, Sistan and balouchestan, Isfahan, Kerman, Yazd, Alborz, Hormozgan, Tehran and Khuzastan.
The ceremony was held under the theme “tourism-linking cultures” set by UNWTO for 2011. This event was hosted by Khuzestan province, home to the number of tribal groups with ethnic diversity such as Lor, Bakhtiar,Iranian Arab, Shushtar, Dezful, Behbahan and many other ethnic minorities. In other words, Kuzestan was a good showcase for fulfilling the celebration’s theme.
The first day, tourist guides had a big chance to visit two important sites in Unesco world heritage list, Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System and Choghazanbil Temple.
The first visit was ancient area of Susa including antiquities of Achaemenid era (500 BC) to after Islam. The restorers are working on this site to be registered as a world heritage.
On the way of Shushtar, the visitors could see the sugarcane fields to know the potential of industrial tourism in Khuzestan. In two separated groups, they visited two sites including “collection of mills” and “Salasel Fort”. These sites are some parts of “Historical Hydraulic System” that have been registered in Unesco world heritage list. After sightseeing, the participants ate lunch in Shushtar near “Mizan Band” and “Kolahfarangi”(other sections of Historical Hydraulic System).
Then the groups set off Ghoghazanbil Temple (1250 BC) to watch the sunset. It’s good to note that Ghoghazanbil Temple,Persepolis and Naqshe Jahan Square are the first sites that were registered simultaneously in Unesco world heritage list. The tourist guides visited Ghoghazanbil Temple while they were listening to local guides’ explanations. Then they gathered to listen to music. At sunset, the guides lit the candles in their hands to make the site more beautiful. The first day program was finished after the guides ate dinner near the site and transferred to their residence.
The second day of the ceremony started by a walk tour in Dezful. The tourist guides visited “Water Museum”, passed alleys and archways, watched brick houses (Dezful is famous for brick buildings) and stopped across from “Anthropology Museum” in “Kornasion Bathroom” to end the tour.
Afterward, the participants transferred to one of the residences, Qale Mokhtar, to watch the very special programs symbolized the celebration’s theme. Many ethnic minorities of Khuzestan such as Bakhtiari, Iranian Arab, Lor, QashQaie were wearing their traditional clothes served the participants with local foods and performed local music and dance. The outstanding parts of the day was to drink coffee in “Mozif”(very small room made of bamboo that Iranian Arabs invite their guest for drinking tea and coffee), sward dance of Arabs, dance of Lor minority and storytelling of a Bakhtiari couple. Also some of the guides were wearing local clothes symbolized peace and friendship among different Iranian tribal groups.
Early in the morning, the guides set off Ahvaz to hold the celebration. Like last years the ceremony started at 9:57 am. The first part was a commemoration of Parviz Rajabi,expert on Iran and researcher, and also Aziz Asheqi, the guardian of Takhte Soleiman(a historical site in West Azerbaijan that has been registered in Unesco world heritage list) who was the guest in Tabriz celebration two years ago. The other parts of the ceremony as follows:
1. Showing video clips of last celebrations.
2. Delivering the statue of ceremony to Khuzestan representative to be kept there until next year.
3. Unveiling tourist guides’ audio logo.
The special guest of this year, Tooran Mirhadi, the founder of children’s book council and adolescent and children’s encyclopedia, was praised for working more than 40 years on Iranian culture with a respectful group.
In addition to tourist guides, journalists and other guests from different groups who are active in tourism and culture such as Mohammadreza Aslani, director, Soodabeh Fazaeli, writer, Parvin Bahmani, the researcher on QashQaie Tribe, Parvin Fakharinia, writer and the member of executive board of adolescent and children’s encyclopedia, Naser Karami, active in ecotourism, Fereidoon Momeni, professor of geography, attended in the ceremony.
The 5th world tourist guide day celebration was finished by holding an exhibition of cultural products of different provinces to introduce their activities in tourism. All the trade unions and tourist guide associations made big efforts to hold this big ceremony in Khuzestan and finally they could draw the governors’ attention to strengths and weaknesses of this historical province in tourism. Naming one of the squares in Ahvaz with the name of “tourist” represents their attention.