Int’l Hotel Chains Boost Iranian Tourism

Int’l Hotel Chains Boost Iranian TourismInt’l Hotel Chains Boost Iranian Tourism

The presence of reputable international hotel brands in Iran helps attract foreign tourists and improves the quality of services, according to Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Speaking on the sidelines of the signing of a management contract between the French group AccorHotels and Iranian firm Aria Ziggurat, Soltanifar said construction of hotels took a serious turn one-and-a-half years ago when 125 projects to build four- and five-star hotels broke ground, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

“Some of the projects are about 90% complete,” he said, adding that at least 400 new hotels must be constructed by 2025 in line with Iran’s 2025 Vision Plan to attract 20 million tourists annually by that year.

AccorHotels is scheduled to open two hotels, Ibis and Novotel, at the Imam Khomeini International Airport on October 15.

Soltanifar said the completion of IKIA’s second terminal in five years will allow the airport to accommodate twice the number of travelers it receives now, “which will help us achieve our tourism goals”.

“We have 1,100 hotels in Iran, but only 12% of those are four- and five-star establishments,” he said.

Soltanifar, who is a vice president for tourism, said his organization has prepared a package containing detailed information about 1,300 tourism projects that will be made available to domestic and international investors.

“We estimate the whole thing will cost $25 billion,” he added.

  Future Investments

Masoud Khansari, chairman of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said Accor’s investment can encourage other foreign investors to expand their business in Iran and push the country’s emerging tourism market forward.

He said the signing of the nuclear accord—on July 14 in Vienna between Iran and six world powers—allows Iran’s economy to prosper by facilitating foreign investment.

Mehdi Jahangiri, chairman of Aria Ziggurat, hoped that the partnership with Accor would upgrade local standards of hotels in Iran.

French Ambassador to Iran Bruno Foucher, who attended the ceremony, called Iran a “unique country that can become a top holiday destination” and echoed Khansari’s sentiments that foreign companies, especially French firms, will soon follow Accor’s example and help boost the Iranian economy.

 “Our brands are looking at huge growth potential in this country, which is home to almost 80 million people and is expanding its economy,” AccorHotels ’ chief executive, Sebastien Bazin, said.

“We are certain that Novotel and Ibis will fit perfectly into the growth momentum that Iran’s hospitality sector is enjoying.”

Speaking to The Guardian on Tuesday, Mina Mehdinia, an organizer of the 2017 convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations–to be held in Tehran–said, “Iran is trying to establish itself as a new tourist destination in the world and we would like to use this convention to introduce Iran to outsiders as a very safe country to visit. We hope our tourism will receive a significant boost.”

The French group’s move to open two hotels in Iran is the first major investment by an international company in Iran following the historic nuclear deal signed two months ago.

AccorHotels, which is the world’s sixth-largest hotel group, joins a growing list of international hotels that have either expressed interest in the Iranian market or have already entered it.

The UAE-based Rotana is planning to open a number of hotels in Iran, while another UAE-based hotel chain, Jumeirah Group, as well as Spain’s Melia Hotels International are reportedly preparing to invest in the market.

Peter Blackburn of Crista Hotels in the UAE said in August that the company would be seeking to partner with local firms to expand its portfolio in Iran.