Ecolodges Triggering Ecotourism

Ecolodges Triggering EcotourismEcolodges Triggering Ecotourism

Ecotourism and ‘ecolodge’ accommodations, have been much debated topics, making headlines since the increase in the number of foreign tourists in the country over the past year. The deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) also proclaimed ecolodges as suitable accommodation options for housing tourists. It has nevertheless, been over a decade since ecolodges have been introduced as an accommodation genre in Iran. Ecolodges specifically aim to serve clients in line with the traditions of the region, offering tourists a glimpse of the local way of life, according to Donyay-e Eghtesad newspaper.

Yet, as Dr Ali Farzin, Head of the Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development Cluster of UNDP, puts it: “Ecotourism can prosper in the country only when it has been sensibly planned and guidelines have been set for correct implementation. The model has been successful in the Latin America, China, and Europe with the input of local capital.” In Iran, however these initiatives require greater supervision by tourism bodies and greater collaboration among the various tourism services, to ensure profits of owners do not over-ride service quality and customer service, he added.


There are many ecolodges dotting the country, with different takes on the theme.  There is Khoune Noghli in Kashan, Nour Khouneh in Ghal’e Bala village, Pasangan Carvanserai in Qom, Kolbeye Aghamir in Sa’adatshahr, Gile Boom in Qasemabad Sofla, as well as several accommodations in Qeshm, to name only a few.

Maziar Aledavoud is a well-known figure in ecotourism housing in the country. After returning to Iran, having lived abroad for several years, he went to Garmeh, his home village in Isfahan Province, restored his father’s old house, and converted it into a guesthouse, hosting local and foreign tourists. Aledavoud is mostly famous for the quality of service he offers. He says he does not intend to expand his business, preferring to make room for other activists. He maintains, when the volume of work increases, management becomes more difficult. His approach has led to tourists to queue up to lodge at his guesthouse, called Atashouni. One night’s stay costs between $45 to $100.

Abbas Barzegar who hosts tourists in Bavanat, Fars Province takes a different approach.  He undertakes projects that have the potential to expand throughout the entire region, and claims that 90,000 Siah Chadors (a typical lodging of Iranian nomads) can be set up in the region.  

Hashem Tabatabai, who operates a business in Mesr desert in Isfahan province, called Barandaz, appears to hold a vision closer to that of Aledavoud. Barandaz has the capacity to accommodate 60 people, and caters to a mixture of local and international tourists. His house is interesting enough for most European tourists to spend the whole day inside the building.

Popular ecolodges in Iran are not limit to the ones located in the central deserts and the south.

In the northern province of Golestan, Boomkolbeh –Turkmen, has managed to win the Australian “To Do” prize for promoting socially responsible tourism. Owners of this lodge have focused on the environment and have acquired special ‘green’ credentials, and so are attracting their own niche clientele.

This piece aims to highlight the importance of ecolodges in attracting foreign tourists, and reflects the various visions of their patrons which has led to attracting different niche markets.   Yet, it requires mentioning that tourists attracted to these businesses, all share a same passion, which is their fondness of nature over history and culture. It is this alternative that gives ecolodges their unique appeal. Ecolodges have succeeded in contributing to the ICHHTO vision by diversifying Irani’s tourism market by bringing in a different clientele to those seeking the relics of ancient Persia.