50 Hotel Projects Underway

50 Hotel Projects Underway50 Hotel Projects Underway

The Iranian capital needs to expand its capacity to host tourists, for which 50 hotel construction projects are currently underway.

The country’s lack of lodging facilities has long been touted as a major factor hampering Iran’s efforts to become a top tourist destination, and those involved in the industry have consistently called for the easing of investment regulations to attract foreign investors.

Speaking to the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, president of Tehran Hotels Association, Ali Farrokhmehr, said five hotels will be completed by October, two of which are hotel apartments.

“Out of the 50 hotels, five to seven will be five-star establishments,” he said, adding that Tehran needs 100 more hotels, not 50.

  ICHHTO Obstructing Progress

He pointed to hotel construction projects in other provinces and said while projects are underway all over the country, emphasis has been put on metropolises such as Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz.

Farrokhmehr stressed the need to facilitate investment and criticized Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization for failing to do that.

“The private sector has been actively trying to build more hotels, but the organization’s insistence on exerting full control over hotels goes against the principles of privatization,” he said.

ICHHTO constantly issues directives aimed at limiting the private sector’s control over hotel management and restricting the association’s influence over these establishments.

“They claim they are committed to developing tourism, but their actions only serve to hinder progress,” he said.

“Tourism’s bright future envisioned by the private sector is fading.”

Farrokhmehr said the Health Ministry is cooperating with his association to place health professionals in hotels, and revealed that the two bodies are constructing a 200-billion-rial ($6 million) facility to train and educate health professionals, expected to be inaugurated by October.

  Nuclear Talks: Influential?

The result of nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1 could “make or break” Iran’s tourism industry, according to Farrokhmehr.

“Signing of a comprehensive nuclear deal will have a positive impact on tourism, as it will increase the need for more hotels and subsequently bring in foreign investment,” he said, but noted that a breakdown in talks means economic restrictions will obstruct growth in the sector.

President of Hamedan Hotel Association, however, holds a different opinion. Shahram Shirvani believes the key to tourism development lies in Iran, not Vienna.

“The government’s policies and Iran’s global profile are important factors. Promoting the country’s attractions abroad and ensuring foreign tourists have a pleasant stay will lead to more incoming tourists,” he said.

Iran is located in a region neck-deep in turmoil, and Shirvani believes the country has to seize the opportunity. He says being a safe country in an embattled region boosts Iran’s international profile.

He does not deny the positive effect of a nuclear deal on tourism, but says ICHHTO plays a more important role in the industry’s growth. Long, arduous procedures to acquire permits deter potential investors, Shirvani says.

Despite officials claiming funding is available, Shirvani says the fact that countless projects over 70% complete have not yet received a dime from the National Development Fund highlights the poor support extended to the industry.

There is no denying that hotel projects are taking place across Iran, but the slow pace of their progress must be addressed. Lack of government support, bureaucracy and economic restrictions are obstacles holding Iran back from reaching the goal of 20 million tourists annually by 2025. The sooner these obstacles are removed, the better it will be for the tourism industry.