Published on : Thursday, May 31, 2018
While the other signatories to the JCPOA have been unanimous in voicing support for keeping the landmark deal alive, this has failed to reassure Iranian businesses.
Saeed Azam-Vaghefi, a product and promotion manager at Iran Doostan Tours Co said that they cannot definitively decide on what they are going to do tomorrow.
They are in a business enterprise and a subordinate of the country’s political conditions. They are not sure of the future of my business, and they have predicted no particularly clear scenarios.
Younger Iranians who work in the tourism sector also share these concerns, perhaps even more emphatically as they find themselves working in a highly unstable environment with fewer experiences to draw on. Nasrin Tahernejad, a millennial tour leader, said the prospect of US sanctions will in general have a negative impact on Iran’s image abroad. Tahernejad said her own tour leader friends and peers who have become friends with foreign tourists over time are increasingly being asked questions about how safe Iran is to visit, noting that even returning tourists are expressing grave concerns.
However, not everyone is short on optimism. Hamid Athari, who’s been working as an inbound tour guide since the July 2015 signing of the nuclear deal, doesn’t view impending US sanctions as the biggest threat to Iran’s tourism sector.
Since the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on April 11 capped the amount of foreign currency that travelers are allowed to purchase at the new unified exchange rate — 1,000 euros once a year and 500 euros once a year for distant and neighboring countries, respectively — many have had to rethink their usual holiday travels. Foreign currency beyond these amounts is available at a much higher rate on the black market, though such purchases are technically against the law.
Against this backdrop, the CBI has reportedly reached an agreement with the tourism organization — which is finally set to turn into a tourism ministry as the general outlines of its transformation bill have been approved by parliament — to extend foreign currency to the tourism sector at the official rate.
On the other hand, for foreign visitors, the weakened rail means cheaper travels to a country that was already ranked first in the world in a 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) report in terms of price competitiveness. Thus, should the government manage to succeed in terms of managing the new exchange rate regime, Iran’s tourism balance might stand to benefit.