SSO to Embark on Hotel Expansion

SSO to Embark on Hotel Expansion SSO to Embark on Hotel Expansion

As part of an initiative by the Social Security Organization that aims to build 100 lodging facilities across Iran, construction of 30 hotels will begin in the next Iranian year (starts March 20) as soon as funding is secured.

The scheme, prepared by the Tourism and Leisure Holding Co., a subsidiary of SSO, seeks to increase the number of four- and five-star hotels across Iran while creating jobs to help reduce the official 10.7% unemployment rate. Experts say the jobless rate is much higher.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Gholam Heydar Ebrahim Bai Salami, the chief executive of the holding company and a member of the High Council of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, said the preliminary stages of the project have been carried out.

“We’ve discussed the scheme with provincial officials and our experts are surveying the plots we’ve been given,” he said, adding that 30 hotels will be built in the first phase of the scheme.

The scheme will be presented in May at a ceremony attended by potential Iranian and international investors. An investment package has been prepared in both English and Persian, he said.

To help incentivize hotel construction, the Iranian National Tax Administration has approved granting all lodging facilities a tax holiday for five years, and a 50% permanent exemption.

Furthermore, hotels built from the next Iranian year onward will receive a permanent income tax exemption.

There are 1,100 hotels and guesthouses in Iran, about 132 of which are four-and five-star establishments. In order to accommodate 20 million visitors a year by 2025, which is Iran’s stated goal, the country needs at least 400 quality hotels.

In the past few months two five-star hotels were inaugurated in Iran; Gootke Mall in Semnan and Espinas Palace Hotel in north Tehran, which is Iran’s largest and most expensive hotel.

Foreign investors are gradually entering Iran’s lucrative travel market. Last October, French group AccorHotels opened two hotels near the Imam Khomeini International Airport, the country’s biggest airport 30km south of the capital.

Emirati firm Rotana Hotels is also expected to open four properties in Tehran and Mashhad by 2018, while the Dubai-based Shaza Hotel is targeting entry within the next five years to open five hotels in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Rasht and Mashhad.

In order to hone the management skills of Iranian hoteliers and improve service quality, both of which are often criticized by travelers, the government has reached an agreement with France to help train hotel staff and managers.

Furthermore, the prestigious Swiss hospitality school Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (Lausanne Hotel School) announced last week that it will open a campus in Isfahan.

Reports in the past said plans are underway to build seven new international airports over the next decade.