Tourism in Iran is now making a huge comeback

Published on : Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tourism in IranOnce off limits to many because of international sanctions, Iran is now making a huge comeback as an attractive tourist destination.

More than 6 million people visited Iran this year up to March 2017, which is an increase of 50% over the previous year and three times the number in 2009.

This increase in visitors follows the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that resulted in many sanctions being lifted early the following year. European airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa have resumed direct flights to the country, and Iranian authorities have also relaxed visa requirements. However, demand for accommodation is skyrocketing with this tourist influx.

That in turn is creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs and foreign businesses.
Unlike some Western firms, who are reluctant to invest in Iran fearing President Trump could yet torpedo the nuclear deal, international hotel chains are moving fast to meet the need for more rooms.

France’s Accor was the first chain to open its hotel in Iran in 2015. Now it operates two hotels there. Spain’s Melia will open its first hotel next year. Rotana of the United Arab Emirates also has one hotel in the pipeline for early next year and plans three more by 2020. EasyHotel, a U.K.-based budget chain, is reported to have signed a deal in July to deliver 500 rooms.

Iran wants to attract more than 20 million visitors by 2025, according to the state tourism agency. Many of the new visitors are young backpackers from Europe and Asia, drawn by Iran’s history and culture. The most popular destinations include the ancient cities of Esfahan and Shiraz. It’s also home to Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A World Economic Forum report earlier this year named Iran as the world’s cheapest travel destination.


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