Tourism Targets Achievable

Tourism Targets AchievableTourism Targets Achievable

Despite the shortage of lodging facilities and the all-pervasive bureaucracy hampering investment in the tourism sector, Iranian officials believe the country is on track to realize its tourism goals.

Morteza Rahmani Movahed, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization’s deputy for tourism, is of the opinion that the country has the potential to accommodate 20 million visitors, Mehr News Agency reported.

Iran’s Vision Plan targets 20 million tourists per year by 2025, which is estimated to generate $30 billion in revenues.

Ali Rahimpour, a member of Iranian Hoteliers’ Association, told the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad that at full capacity, Iranian hotels can accommodate five to six million tourists.

As Iran attracts five million tourists every year, the country’s lodging facilities are already at full capacity.

Movahed concedes that to meet tourism goals, Iran needs to build 2,000 hotels in the next 10 years.

However, Iran’s hotel construction record is far from stellar, as only a handful of quality hotels have been built in recent times.

According to Ali Farrokhmehr, president of Tehran Hotels Association, 50 hotel construction projects are underway in the Iranian capital. In fact, Tehran needs 100 more hotels to meet the demand of the anticipated tourist influx, not 50.

If Tehran, a city hardly known for its tourism potential, lacks 100 hotels, one can only imagine the dire state of the hospitality industry in tourist hubs such as Shiraz, Isfahan and Mashhad.

Movahed announced that 940 projects aimed at developing tourism infrastructure, including hotels and restaurants, are currently underway, while 970 projects are awaiting approval.

Furthermore, ICHHTO has prepared detailed information on 1,020 investment projects that will be made available to potential domestic and foreign investors soon. The package includes information about three- to five-star hotel projects.

While it seems numerous hotel projects are either underway or planned, the lack of an exact figure makes it difficult to conclude whether enough hotels will be built by 2025.

 Paving the Way

It is no secret that international hotel chains are eying the Iranian market. The UAE-based Rotana is planning to open a number of hotels in Iran, and France’s leading hotelier, AccorHotels, is involved in at least two four-star hotels in the country.

Another UAE-based hotel chain, Jumeirah Group, as well as Spain’s Melia Hotels International are reportedly preparing to enter the Iranian market.

In early August, Peter Blackburn, president and CEO of Crista Hotels in the UAE, said the company would be seeking to partner with local firms to expand its portfolio in Iran.

The Iranian travel market is too lucrative for big global hotel chains to pass up on, but Iran needs to substantially reduce the paperwork involved in applying for construction permits.

Iran’s tourism industry needs foreign and domestic investors to meet its ambitious targets, so it is imperative to facilitate investment to the extent possible.