In 2014, the International Monetary Fund ranked China the world’s largest economy, ending the United States’ 140-year reign. The Chinese economy is now worth $17.6 trillion, slightly higher than the $17.4 trillion IMF estimates for the US.

So it is hardly surprising that every country looking to develop its tourism says, “Huanying!” to welcome the Chinese traveler.

According to Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, officials are devising plans—to be implemented in 2016—to attract more Chinese travelers, ISNA reported.

Movahed says the organization has been working on the plan for a year, but its success is subject to certain factors, such as collaboration between relevant bodies and allocation of sufficient budget.

Experts estimate that by 2020, outbound mainland tourist numbers will reach 200 million, double the 100 million who left China in 2013.

World Travel Organization reported that Chinese travelers spent $165 billion in 2014; a 28% increase compared to the previous year. The figure is expected to triple by 2020.

Fueled by a fast-growing affluent middle class eager to experience new destinations, travel is one of the top aspirations of China’s so-called Billion Boomer generation. The key driver is $8,000 per-capita GDP as well as more annual leave, visa relaxation, worsening mainland pollution and an increasingly overloaded domestic tourism infrastructure, according to CLSA.

The US has been benefiting from outbound Chinese travel for a few years. Travelers from Shanghai alone are estimated to spend $896 million in only Los Angeles, and New York’s revenue from Beijing travelers is estimated to top $1.3 billion in 2015.

  What Piques Their Interest?

The Chinese are partial to Chinese meals and prefer to have a Chinese-speaking tour guide at all times: Two things Iran is lacking.

Nevertheless, Movahed says ICHHTO’s plan will address those issues.

“Establishing Chinese restaurants and teaching tour guides to speak Chinese are outlined in our plan. We also aim to participate in tourism exhibitions in China to raise Iran’s profile,” he said.

Chinese tourists enjoy shopping and visiting landmarks. The plethora of cultural heritage and shopping centers in Iran guarantee that they will not be disappointed.

Movahed, who recently attended the Seventh UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism in Xi’an, China, says Chinese tourism officials have expressed eagerness to expand tourism ties with Iran.

  Penetrating the Chinese Market

Iran has been eying the Chinese market for well over a decade, but poor infrastructure and lack of planning hampered the country’s attempt to draw tourists from the world’s largest country in terms of population.

The official says despite the rise in the number of Chinese tourists in Iran in the past couple of years, the number is a far cry from the country’s objective, which is to attract at least 5% of China’s 100 million outbound travelers.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has made development of Iran’s tourism a priority and steps have been taken to facilitate the industry’s growth, such as waiving visas or easing their issuance. ICHHTO consulted Iran’s ambassador to China a year ago on the best way to approach the Chinese market.

Earlier this month, Movahed said the organization is targeting 40 international markets, ranked based on induces such as per capita income and number of outbound tourists. While he did not reveal any names at the time, it is safe to assume China ranks high on the list.

ICHHTO launched nine tourist information offices in eight countries in April to help attract tourists by promoting Iran’s plethora of attractions and provide Iranian tourism officials with important information regarding the interests and needs of potential tourists. Iran is expected to increase the number of information offices abroad to 25 by March 2016.

Iran has targeted 20 million tourists by 2025 in accordance with the country’s Vision Plan, which could potentially rake in $30 billion for the country, and attracting Chinese tourists would go a long way in helping Iran achieve its tourism goals.