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Tehran Outlines Measures to Develop Tourism

The latest measures aim to enhance security, make sights of attraction more accessible and improve the quality of tours
Besides historical sites, Tehran is packed with modern cafes, art galleries and shopping malls.Besides historical sites, Tehran is packed with modern cafes, art galleries and shopping malls.
Tehran tourism officials are eying an annual hike of 15% in foreign tourist attraction

A senior tourism official in the Iranian capital Tehran has outlined the authorities' latest measures to tap into the city's tourism potentials.

The measures aim to enhance security, make sights of attraction more accessible and improve the quality of tours, according to Ali Rafiei, deputy for tourism at the provincial office of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

"The Police Department has agreed to form a tourism police unit and set up a station in the city where foreign visitors can go for help," he told ISNA. "The unit's main function is to help tourists resolve any grievances they may have."

Officials are also planning to launch "a permanent" sightseeing tour of the city aboard double-decker buses.

"These tours are globally known as 'hop-on hop-off', and establishing them in Tehran will help familiarize tourists with the city's attractions," he said.

The organization has reportedly ordered six buses from an unnamed Swedish automaker and expects to receive them by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2017). Each bus costs approximately 10 billion rials ($286,000).

The fleet of tour buses in Tehran comprises only two Mercedes-Benz O302s, which stopped production in 1976.

Lastly, to improve the quality of tours organized by Tehran-based travel agencies, a set of guidelines will be prepared for all travel agencies.

"Articles in the guidelines will ensure that all tours meet a specific standard, which help improve service quality," Rafiei said. "Failure to comply will result in prosecution."

  Lack of Hotels a Concern

Home to 12 million people, the sprawling capital is usually the first stop for foreign tourists traveling to more popular destinations, such as Isfahan and Shiraz.

In addition to its museums, art galleries, cafes and shopping centers, Tehran also has beautiful historical palaces.

Last month, Tehran Municipality announced that it is preparing to launch a travel card for tourists, allowing both foreign and domestic visitors to take advantage of cash-free public transport and entry to museums across the capital.

Similar in function to Istanbulkart and London Pass, the prepaid card can also be used to use payphones and access the Internet.

Tehran tourism officials are eying an annual hike of 15% in foreign tourist attraction. Last year, some 1.2 million foreign tourists visited the metropolis, which marked a 12% increase compared with the previous year.

Tehran’s expanding metro system and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) network have promoted traveling across the ever-expanding city.

While the lack of quality hotels threatens to hamper progress, foreign hotel groups are slowly making their way into the market.

In October 2015, France firm AccorHotels opened two properties, Ibis and Novotel, at Imam Khomeini International Airport just south of Tehran, and the Dubai-based group Rotana expects to open two hotels in the Iranian capital by 2018.

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