Iran and Slovenia are eager to expand tourism relations, said Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar.

In a meeting with Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia Zdravko Počivalšek on Tuesday, Soltanifar pointed to Iran's historical background and said the country has more than one million historical monuments of which 19 are registered on the UNESCO list, ISNA reported.

Despite all limitations created by US-imposed sanctions against Iran, the country hosted five million tourists last year and it is predicted that the number will rise to 20 million in 2025, Soltanifar added.

"The number of Iranian hotels will increase threefold in the next 10 years," he said, adding that steps have been taken to train experts and increase the quality of services.

"At present 50 percent of the tourists visiting Iran come here for religious purposes, 30 percent go to historical and cultural sites while the remaining 20 percent are interested in availing health services in Iran," he said.

Iran, he said, has great potentials in handicrafts. He listed Iran, China and India as the three major handicrafts producing countries in the world. "Out of the 460 handicraft items in the world, Iran produces 360."

Počivalšek said that tourism is one of the most important sectors of the Slovenian economy and the country earns $2 billion per year from tourism constituting 13 percent of the country's GDP.

He listed four sections of the Slovenian tourism industry as coastal tourism, ski tourism, urban tourism and hydrotherapy health spas.

"Slovenia is a small country which is eager to expand relations with countries having rich historical background," he said.

The establishment of the Slovenian embassy in Tehran, ties between Iran and Slovenia will expand in all fields, he concluded.

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