Document Type : Original Article
- Ph.D in Geography and Rural Planning, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran
- Full Professor of Geography and Rural Planning, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran
- Asociate Professor of Geography and Rural Planning, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran
Nowadays one of the important travelling aims is improving health and travelling to the health tourism destination in order to use hot water springs is growing rapidly. Iran has many hot water springs which are located in rural area that attract many tourists. Providing tourists’ and residents’ safety is one of the key factors for success or failure in spa destination. Safety is the state of not being dangerous or harmful and it has three dimensions; physical, financial and behavioral. Risks that threaten the physical safety of tourist can have natural (firing, located in mountain region and etc) and anthropogenic (terror, crime and etc) origin.
Behavioral safety indicates the residents ‘emotion and behavior with tourist in the destination, and tourist has behavioral safety when the residents’ behavior with her/him is friendly, helpful and without any selfish, and there is positive interaction between tourist and host. Cultural issues and differences between host and tourist are the factors affecting the behavioral safety of tourist. Using drugs is another behavioral risk. Empirical research showed that risk perception (such as illness and food insecurity) can affect the travel decision making. However, tourists’ safety issues in each destination are different.
Therefore, the aim of this paper is spatial investigation of the health tourists’ safety in rural spa destination in Iran. All rural spa tourists are the research population, and 384 tourists were selected as sample by cluster sampling method across 16 villages in 8 geographical regions in Iran.
The results showed that health tourists are generally safe in Iran but the level of safety and its dimensions in the studied regions were not as the same. In the North-West, West, Central and North-East of the country, tourists had moderate safety in all the safety dimensions. Whereas, the lowest level of health tourism safety was in South-East and South-West regions of Iran.
Result and Discussion
In general, the main threats to the health tourism safety in the studied regions of Iran and their solutions are:
South-East region: the presence of wicked people and terrorism, distribution and consumption of drugs were the main threats. In this region due to neighboring with Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is a wave of insecurity and feeling fear for the residents and consequently its tourists. Because Iran has a long border with Pakistan, the Pakistani security policies should be strengthened and cooperation between the two countries for improving security is needed.
South-West region: crime, street fights are the main threats of health tourists’ safety. Robbery and assaulting are the main crimes in Boushehr province. Promotion of the civil culture is the effective preventive strategies to reduce the number of robberies and assaults. So, the public media can play an important role in this issue. Some actions such as identifying the high risk places in health tourism destinations, providing lighting and increasing working hours of public transportation can reduce robberies and assaults. Also, timely presence of police at the crime scene and arrest the culprit will be effective.
North region: unexpected extra cost is the main infraction that threatens the financial safety of health tourists in this region. The tourism services’ prices in the high season are strongly increased. The reasons of the increase in tourism costs are shortage of goods and services in the short term as well as the lack of monitoring system. Therefore, it’s necessary that the tourists’ demand is estimated and the supply of goods is increased proportionally.
South Region: the most important risk of financial safety is theft. Theft is 93% of crime in Hormozgan. The most theft happens in marginal areas of the city, quiet neighborhoods and streets with low traffic at midnight. The main reason of theft is lack of anti-theft systems on the cars. Informing to tourists about the necessity of installing security systems on their car, parking the cars in lighting places in the night, avoiding left valuable objects and documents inside the car can be reduce these crimes.