ICHHTO Says Focus Now Shifting on Turkish Market

ICHHTO Says Focus Now  Shifting on Turkish MarketICHHTO Says Focus Now  Shifting on Turkish Market

Iranian tourism officials have often stated that they are pinning hopes on tourists from regional countries to revive Iran’s travel industry.

The country’s declared goal is to draw 20 million tourists a year by 2025, and authorities believe their best chance of meeting that goal in the next nine years is to persuade travelers from neighboring countries to visit Iran.

But for people who stress the importance of increasing inbound numbers, tourism officials seem to have done little in the way of promoting Iran’s touristic qualities, as shown by a lack of knowledge about Iran’s attractions in neighboring Turkey.

Around 1.75 million Iranians traveled to Turkey in 2015, while 405,000 visited the neighboring country in the first three months of 2016, registering a 1.5% growth compared to the same period a year before. This is while barely 163,000 Turks visited Iran last year.

Despite the two countries’ close relations and shared cultural, historical and religious attributes, Turks do not feel an urge to visit Iran.

“Turks aren’t encouraged to travel to Iran because they don’t know much about the country, which speaks volumes of Iran’s weak marketing strategies,” Ertugrul Karaoglu, president of the Turkey chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents, told the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad.


Up until last year, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization cited lack of funds as the main obstacle in promoting Iran as a holiday destination abroad. However, with the organization receiving a substantial increase to its budget this fiscal year (started March 20), things may be looking up.

“Our budget was affected by the international sanctions, so there wasn’t much we could do until they were lifted,” Muhammad Reza Rostami, head of the Information and Marketing Office at ICHHTO’s department of marketing and promotion, told the Financial Tribune on phone.

“On the account of being neighbors with Turkey, there is less need to promote Iran there. Nonetheless, we’ve actively participated in two top tourism exhibitions, Istanbul’s EMITT and Izmir Tourism Fair,” he said, adding that the ICHHTO will soon open two tourism information offices one each in Istanbul and Ankara.

“We’d like to open offices in other cities as well – since Turkey is a large country – but people have to step forward and express an interest in representing Iran abroad,” he added.

ICHHTO is also preparing brochures in Turkish to be made available at Iran’s embassy and consulate, as well as travel agencies, in Turkey.