Tourism Ready for Investment

Tourism Ready for InvestmentTourism Ready for Investment

A little over a week ago Iran and the p5+1 reached an accord in Lausanne, signing a framework nuclear deal. The economic impacts of this deal are vast, and as such, has stirred discussion among Iran’s economists, writes Mohsen Gharib, general director of Iran touring and Tourism Investment Company (ITTIC), in Persian daily Ta’adol.

One of the hottest topics of discussion is Iran’s capacity to crawl out of its current economic slump, he states, adding that the main conundrum is deciding which industry is ripe for investment in order to revive Iran’s economy.

  Tourism’s Potential

Some believe industries such as the auto industry, oil and gas exploration and production, and transport industry all have the potential to boost Iran’s economy once proper investment has been made. While Gharib admits the importance of the above-mentioned sectors, he does provide an alternative industry with better return: tourism.

With a billion people traveling annually and spending trillions of dollars, tourism has been enjoying a slow but steady growth worldwide, leaving under industries in its trail. Therefore, investing in tourism will pay dividends in job creation and economical boom, Gharib believes.

In many respects, Iran has the capacity to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from all corners of the world; from Europe and the Americas to Japan and Australia. Gharib writes that in a short time, a considerable number of facilities can be constructed to develop Iran’s tourism infrastructure.

Since summer 2013, the Rouhani administration has alleviated much of the negative attitude towards Iranians with its thoughtful approach to diplomacy, therefore giving Iran a chance at becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations. The fog of mistrust surrounding Iran was finally cleared with the Lausanne agreement, but it will take at least until June to see better days, Gharib acknowledges.

According to Gharib , based on available statistics, most four- and five-star hotels of Iran are fully booked throughout the current year, ending in March 2016. However, there are only a total of 15,000 rooms in the hotels, optimistically speaking; not quite sufficient if each foreign tourist stays in Iran for one week.

  Government Support

Seeping with potential, Iran is a place where early-return investment may result in stable revenue. While the government has been supporting the tourism sector, the form and level of the support needs to extend to all sectors of the industry if we are to truly reap the benefits of the industry. Development of infrastructure such as construction of rest houses; production or import of tour buses; construction of five-star hotels in major tourist destinations such as Isfahad, Shiraz, and Yazd; and investment in promotion and marketing of national tourism are only a few examples of sectors that could benefit from the government’s support.

With numerous hotels and lodging facilities across the country, the ITTIC has the capacity to start effective cooperation with travel agencies. The company is also willing to enter joint venture hotel construction projects with foreign investors. Gharib also states that the ITTIC has prepared a comprehensive plan, which includes a list of twenty investment-friendly regions in Iran, to be presented to willing parties.