People, Travel

Tourism Demand Stymied by Underdeveloped Infrastructure

Tourism Demand Stymied by Underdeveloped InfrastructureTourism Demand Stymied by Underdeveloped Infrastructure

Iran’s underdeveloped tourism infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the growing demand to visit the long-isolated country, forcing travel agencies to reduce their tour capacities.

The government has opened tourism information offices in 16 countries in a bid to promote Iran as a holiday destination. The offices are run by Iranians who own travel agencies in the target countries.

Abbas Davoudi, owner of a travel agency in Italy and head of a tourism information office in Milan, says the demand for travel to Iran has been growing but due to a lack of infrastructure, specifically quality hotels, he has been unable to organize tours at full capacity.

“There’s a 30 to 40% increase in demand, but unless we develop our infrastructure we won’t be able to keep up,” he told ISNA.

Iran, whose stated goal is to attract 20 million tourists by 2025, has just over 1,100 hotels, less than 140 of which are four- and five-star facilities. Experts say the country needs around 400 high quality hotels to accommodate the anticipated influx of foreign tourists.

Last year, just over 5 million foreign tourists traveled to Iran.

“We attend the largest tourism expos in the world in an attempt to promote Iran’s lesser-known attractions, which piques people’s interest, many of whom request to sign up for tours.

“But we regularly find ourselves having to reject many potential tourists because we know we can’t put them up anywhere,” he said.

Davoudi called on the government to speed up efforts to develop infrastructure, adding: “

The government is in a position to facilitate investment…they must do everything in their power to bring investors to Iran.”

German and Turkish firms have agreed to build a combined 20 hotels in the next decade in various locations in Iran, while other groups such as Spain’s Melia Hotels and the Abu Dhabi-based Rotana are already building quality hotels.

Last October, France’s Accor opened two midscale hotels—Ibis and Novotel—near Imam Khomeini International Airport, 30 kilometers south of Tehran.