Iran Ranked 5th Biggest Destination in 2016

Iran Ranked 5th Biggest Destination in 2016Iran Ranked 5th Biggest Destination in 2016

New York-based Travel + Leisure magazine has ranked Iran the 5th “biggest, buzziest” destination in 2016.

In their annual list of the best holiday destinations in the upcoming year, which focuses on “under-the-radar gems” and classic destinations making a comeback, the editors of the reputable travel magazine ranked the best 50 destinations in 2016.

“In the geopolitical sphere, the recently signed nuclear deal between Iran and the UN security council (plus Germany) has opened up opportunities for Americans to more readily visit the cosmopolitan capital of Tehran and the mosques of Kashan,” reads a statement on the magazine’s website.

Sean Rocha, the editor who researched Iran, said, “Rarely does a single accord return one of the world’s great civilizations to center stage, but the recent nuclear agreement may well accomplish that for Iran.”

With 19 UNESCO world heritage sites and a history of empire going back to 1000 BC, Iran was a major destination in the 1970s. In fact, by some accounts, tourism accounted for 25% of the country’s GDP prior to the revolution.

In 2014, the industry’s contribution to the economy was a meager 6.1%.

“Intrepid travelers are rediscovering the vibrant, surprisingly cosmopolitan capital of Tehran; the gorgeous architecture and Great Bazaar of Isfahan; the mosques of Kashan, the retreat of Safavid kings; and the extraordinary gardens of Shiraz,” Rocha said.

There’s plenty to celebrate about modern Iranian culture, too: the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, founded in 1977, holds an impressive collection of western art.

“There are no restrictions on US citizens visiting Iran as tourists,” said Debbie Pappyn, a T+L contributor who visited Iran in August.

Describing Iran as the Middle East’s most exciting new destination, Pappyn added, “There’s something particularly satisfying about exploring a place with a rich and complex history. It’s largely what makes Iran such an intoxicating place to visit.”

 Regaining Top Status  

Iran’s inclusion in yet another list of emerging destinations is testament to the country’s potential to regain its status as a top holiday destination.

In November, the World Travel Market London named Iran as a top three promising vacation spot, citing the country’s unique culture and heritage as well as thawing diplomatic relations with the West as the main factors.

Simon Press, senior director of WTM London, said: “Since the international deal to lift sanctions was sealed in the summer, there have been many overseas firms looking to do business in Iran – and tourism companies are leading the way.

“A major influx of overseas visitors is expected, and, as the country recovers from its international exile, Iranians will see economic benefits, which will translate into increased domestic travel.”

Caroline Bremner, head of travel at Euromonitor International, said: “Tourists on religious, historical or nature trips accounted for an estimated 90% of the annual five million international arrivals to the country in 2014.

“There is certainly pent-up demand to visit Iran, and it is centrally located with good air links to Africa, Europe and Asia – so we expect those tourist numbers to boom.”