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Published on : Friday, June 23, 2017
Of late, tourism has been one of the key pillars of the Iranian economy that immediately witnessed steady growth after the lifting of international sanctions last year as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Incoming travelers have increased in Iran, and hence, the development and growth of Iran’s tourism industry has become one of the main focuses of the administration of President Hassan Rouhani. The country’s Tourism Vision 2025 Plan outlines the goal of increasing the country’s share of the world’s international tourists from 0.9% in 2004 to 1.5% by 2025, which would equal 20 million visitors and $30 billion in annual earnings.
According to Iranian officials, more than 6 million foreign tourists visited the country in the previous Iranian calendar year that ended March 20, generating some $8 billion in revenue.
While the average age of tourists visiting Iran was about 60 only a few years ago, officials say the average age has decreased to between 45 and 50 as more young travelers visit the country. Indeed, Iran, which has been designated as the world’s cheapest travel destination by the World Economic Forum in three consecutive biannual reports, has become a new destination for backpackers who prefer to travel at lower cost and avoid luxury hotels and services.
In this regard, hostels, which offer hospitality services at a cheaper standard and a lower cost than hotels, are gaining interest, both from investors and tourists.
Jalal Rashedi, the founder and manager of Seven Hostels Group said, “We started the first place in Tehran, which in terms of facilities and vibe, was in accordance with the internationally accepted standards of a typical hostel. Later on, we extended the same theme to other cities such as Shiraz, Esfahan, Alamut and also to a small town near Dizin Ski Resort.”
The increase in the number of young foreign tourists who visit Iran is considered a key factor behind the growing number of hostels across the country. While Iran still has an insufficient number of high-standard hotels, cheaper, traditional accommodation has not been successful in attracting foreign tourists.
Iran’s traditional budget accommodation, known as “mosaferkhaneh” (traveler house), has long been used by locals. These facilities are widely used in religious cities such as Qom, Mashhad and Shiraz where pilgrims from all walks of life travel to visit holy sites. But these traditional low-cost accommodations across Iran have rarely been used by foreign travelers.
Hence, Iran’s traditional, cheap accommodations remain largely unknown to the foreign tourists.