Iran launches ambitious tourism plans, anticipates 20 million visitors a year
Iran’s tourism industry is anticipating rapid growth following the lifting of economic sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani’s government is taking fresh measures to ease or abolish visa requirements for most foreign visitors. Business travellers are also making their way to Tehran scoping out opportunities. More tourists also appear to be on the planes coming from Frankfurt, Rome, Istanbul and the few other places that have direct flights to Iran. The Iranian government says it expects a 6.6% rise in the number of tourists for 2015.
Iranian Vice-President and Head of the country’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO), Masoud Soltanifar, said that “bright days” lie ahead for the country’s tourism industry following the nuclear agreement struck in Vienna.
“No other industry in Iran will see a bigger boost than tourism as the result of this deal,” he said. “The news about the nuclear agreement and lifting of economic sanctions has delighted our tourism industry.” Soltanifar announced earlier in July that Iran was increasing the length of tourist visas from 15 days to one month, and from as early as next year tourist visas could be issued electronically.
Several large hotel companies, including the Abu Dhabi-based Rotana, confirmed that they are planning on opening new hotels in Iran in hopes of increased tourism due to the lifting of sanctions.
Masoud Soltanifar said that foreign hotel groups from Germany, Greece, South Korea and Singapore had visited Iran to “study the Iranian tourism market and its growing attractions.” The ICHHTO Director has previously stressed the importance of tourism for the country, outlining aims to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2025, generating up to USD 30 billion in revenues. Foreign visitor numbers are currently estimated at around four million.
Iranians have welcomed the opportunity to develop the country’s historic buildings, ancient sites and its rugged mountains that are ideal for skiing and mountaineering. The country is among the world’s top potential tourist destinations with a treasure trove of ancient sites, including 17 places listed by the UNESCO.