EghtesadOnline: Qeshm is the largest island in Persian Gulf and one of the most popular destinations of domestic tourists.
In the past few years, measures have been taken to develop the island’s tourism potential and last week Qeshm Free Zone Organization announced plans to launch an airline, Fly Qeshm, and is already negotiating with Canada’s Bombardier to purchase planes.
But there’s more: The island’s top brass are also planning to launch a railroad tourism scheme called Qeshm Rail to connect northern regions to Qeshm, which is all the way in the south, QFZO’s tourism deputy, Farzin Haqdel, told Mana News Agency.
Haqdel said the main goal is to provide an affordable alternative to other common modes of travel, according to Financial Tribune.
“Airfares are high and people who want to bring their cars over have to splash out to have their cars ferried to the island,” he said. “But the railroad scheme helps cut travel costs and allows people from almost everywhere in the country to visit Qeshm.”
The organization intends to purchase or charter trains that link up with the Tehran-Bandar Abbas railroad. So far, so good, but that’s where things get a bit challenging.
Persian Gulf Bridge
The entire plan relies on the construction of the Persian Gulf Bridge, a project that was first broached 42 years ago but has made very little progress.
If constructed, the bridge will connect Qeshm to Pahl Port in Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormozgan Province. Commissioned by QFZO, the structure is touted as an economically-justifiable project that can help cut travel time and cost.
The bridge will be a two-lane highway with a train track running through it.
According to Hamidreza Momeni, the head of the organization, about 2.2 trillion rials ($58 million) have already been spent on the project.
“The scheme only needs 500 billion rials ($13.2 million) to be completed within three years,” he said in February.
However, Haqdel is upbeat, seeing this as an opportunity to properly plan the Qeshm Rail scheme.
“We need to iron out the details until the completion of the bridge,” he said.
Haqdel said they plan to launch the tourism scheme by this summer, but because the bridge won’t be complete by then, passengers will be transported for free from Bandar Abbas Train Station to Haqqani Port, where they will be ferried free of charge to Qeshm.
“So, tourists only pay for train tickets that cost substantially less than airfares and reduce overall travel costs,” he said.