The affable and hospitable people of Qeshm have established several homestays in different parts of the island, which is 135 km long and comprises 59 towns and villages.
On a hot spring morning, I and some of my friends accompanied the head of Qeshm cultural heritage office Abdorreza Dashtizadeh, and ecotourism instructor and inspector Ashkan Boruj on their visit to homestays in Qeshm.
Rural tourism is the main type of tourism on Qeshm Island, Dashtizadeh told the Tehran Times while visiting Shafei homestay in Kani village, located in the westernmost part of the island near Salt Dome, the longest salt cave in the world.
In the homestay, the Shafei family offers traditional dishes and handicrafts to tourists who stay there.
Due to the scattering of tourist attractions on the island, the rural tourism encompasses natural, coastal and maritime and historical tourism, he said.
The homestays located in the suburbs or villages, which are near historical and tourist sites, should be empowered, he added.
“We aim to decentralize tourism from Qeshm’s centre but we are concerned about the local culture,” he added.
He said that the office holds several courses on the principle of ecotourism, which is the preservation of local culture, and warns about social anomalies caused by tourists.
“Unfortunately most of people who come to Qeshm are travellers not tourists so they don’t have any economic benefit for the villages of the island,” he lamented. By establishing homestays, villages also benefit from tourism, he added.
The shortage of infrastructure on the island, such as roads, intensifies the problem for expanding ecotourism on the island, he said.
“Homestays are a way to help the local economy. Qeshm locals are very kind and honest people and it means a lot for a tourism site,” Dashtizadeh concluded.