Plans for Multimillion Dollar Resort on Qeshm Island

Plans for Multimillion Dollar Resort on Qeshm IslandPlans for Multimillion Dollar Resort on Qeshm Island

An ambitious, multimillion dollar project to construct a tourist resort on Qeshm Island was unveiled on Thursday at the Free Zones Organizations’ headquarters in Tehran.

The $753 million resort will cover 46 hectares and include Qeshm’s first-ever five-star hotel, which will include 200 rooms and 150 suites, ISNA reported.

The multipurpose complex will also be equipped with sports, cultural and commercial facilities, including a multiplex cinema, an amphitheater, tennis and badminton courts, a gym and two football fields.

The resort will be built about 60 meters from the Persian Gulf island’s southern coastline—the minimum acceptable distance as defined by Iran’s environment authorities.

“Qeshm is larger than popular destinations such as Singapore and Macau, and it still has plenty of room for investment and improvement,” Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said during the unveiling ceremony.

“Developing our free trade zones will play a big role in driving our economy forward.”

Hamidreza Momeni, chief executive of Qeshm Free Zone Organization, lamented the lack of quality hotels on the island and said Qeshm has been a free trade zone for 25 years and still does not have a five-star hotel; “it’s time to change that”.

Qeshm Island is a key destination in southern Iran, which draws tourists in droves every year.

  Attractions Marred by Shortcomings

Blessed with unique geological formations that host a variety of flora and fauna and sandy beaches alongside the Persian Gulf coastlines, the island is brimming with opportunities squandered due to a host of factors, such as unsustainable development, poor public transportation system and the staple shortcoming of most Iranian tourist destinations: underdeveloped infrastructure.

Qeshm Free Zone Organization is said to have enlisted the help of Japan International Cooperation Agency to help develop the island’s travel sector to draw more tourists, especially foreign.

In June 2015, Momeni and Kohei Sato, chief representative of JICA’s Iran office, signed an agreement in Tehran to launch a joint project aimed at turning Qeshm into an “eco island resort” by pursuing sustainable development.

Based on the agreement, JICA will transfer its experience and knowledge to QFZO to help improve the quality of life of the locals and augment sustainability.

Last December, JICA launched an extensive study of four major investment areas in Qeshm, namely tourism, fishing, wastewater and solid waste management, with a special focus on environmental conservation.

Once successfully implemented, the JICA project is expected to increase household income through ecotourism, improve women’s status through participation in economic activities, reduce the environmental impact of tourism and curb the negative effects of industrial development and population growth in the production of waste and wastewater.

Qeshm is also home to the Middle East’s first, and only, geopark. Initially added to UNESCO’s coveted Global Geoparks Network in 2006, Qeshm Geopark was dropped from the network in 2012 due to the authorities’ failure to address the site’s problems, such as unenforced environmental regulations.

However, things may be looking up for the geopark, as officials have been working on bringing the geopark up to global standards for more than two years.

Should their efforts be deemed acceptable by UNESCO evaluators, who will travel to the island in July, GGN member states will vote on the geopark’s reentry into the network during the Seventh International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks on September 27-30.