Int’l Hoteliers Eye Iranian Market

Int’l Hoteliers Eye  Iranian MarketInt’l Hoteliers Eye  Iranian Market

I ran’s push for a prospering tourism industry is set to receive a boost when some of the world’s most renowned hotel managers will visit Iran in the foreseeable future to assess its market and discuss investment opportunities, according to the head of the World Trade Center in Tehran, Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour.

“Among those visiting Iran is the manager of a large global hotel chain, with over 150 luxury hotels across five continents,” Press TV quoted Sabzalipour as saying. He did not disclose any names, however.

He said serious negotiations with several big names in the business had been going on for a year, with the main topic of discussion being the possibility of investment in construction and renovation of hotels. “It is imperative to facilitate foreign investment in the tourism sector.”

The delegates plan to travel separately and visit tourist destinations and hold talks with Iranian mayors and state officials as well as private investors.

“Even though the tourism industry was not directly affected by the crippling sanctions, experts believe recent progress in negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 will help Iran’s tourism immensely by opening the way for foreign investment,” Sabzalipour said.

Iran’s tourism has been mostly affected by the western media’s smear campaign, portraying a negative image of the country and tarnishing Iran’s global profile.

The country’s National Vision Plan aims to attract 20 million tourists a year by 2025, which could potentially generate $30 billion in revenues, according to the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization, Masoud Soltanifar.

With 17 World Heritage Sites, a plethora of nationally-recognized cultural sites, and mesmerizing natural spots, Iran has the potential to become a major tourism destination.

The tourism industry has been a victim of the country’s decades-long focus on  the oil sector. The importance attached to the energy industry has resulted in tourism being neglected for far too long. Nevertheless, Iran has seen an increase in tourist arrivals in the past couple of years.

Global tourism has been experiencing an unprecedented growth in recent years. In 2014, 1.13 billion tourist arrivals were recorded, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts the figure will increase between 3% and 4% in 2015. International tourism generated $1.5 trillion in 2014, and Iran’s share was 0.5%. Officials are aiming for 2% of the global tourism revenue by 2025.

“Tourism is now seen as the third largest industry in the world in terms of annual revenue, and the UNWTO says the industry will be able to compete with the oil and auto industries by 2020,” Sabzalipour asserted.