A Year Full of Surprises

A Year Full of SurprisesA Year Full of Surprises

The hottest year for Iran’s tourism no doubt was 2014, a year that saw a significant rise in the number of foreign visitors to the country. Many international newspapers and websites also wrote about new hopes for Iran’s tourism; referring to Iran with such terms as “2014’s surprise tourism hit” and “the new must-see holiday destination.”

As reports by Iranian authorities suggested, some 200% increase in the number of foreign tourists over the past year saw most foreign news agencies unanimously regarding “the rising hopes for more effective diplomacy with the West and easing of visa regulations,” as promised by President Hassan Rouhani during his election campaign, responsible for the resurgence of travel to the country.

CNN, Bloomberg news agency, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Italian newspapers La Republica and Corriere della sera, UAE’s The National and Euromonitor International Agency were among the many agencies that published elaborate reports and articles about Iran’s growing tourism, as reported by Financial Tribune’s sister publication, Donya-e-Eghetsad newspaper.

Early January last year, Daily Telegraph’s Travel page predicted that Iran would be one of the world’s top destinations in 2014, citing “epic scenery, an extraordinary history and culture and a warm welcome”.

An earlier report by Financial Times had suggested that the volume of requests made to the British tour operator Wild Frontiers a British travel operator that organizes tailor-made tours to Iran, for travel to Iran “had increased by 30% over the past year.”

The Bloomberg newspaper in its May article wrote about Iran’s “new tourism wave,” noting that “ for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, international hotel chains are now plotting a return, while European airlines are adding or restoring links with Tehran.”

CNN too published an article in July that referred to the “tsunami of tourists” in Iran, contributing the upswing in Iran’s hotel business and tourism industry to President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign “to give a gentler and more positive impression of Iran by easing some visa requirements and working to resolve Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West.”

In another article published by Daily Telegraph in July, author Benedict Brogan who had traveled to Iran in 2014 highlighted the attractive features of four major Iranian cities, describing Iran as a “spellbinding, endlessly fascinating country.”

“There are two distinct Irans to discover. There is an ancient, sumptuous civilization that boasts some of the greatest treasures of ancient and Islamic architecture and art: the dramatic ruins of Persepolis, the ethereal beauty of Isfahan, the imperial palaces of Tehran. The other is the modern Iran we hear much about, but do not really know,” Brogan wrote in his article.

Italian newspaper La Republica in its July article mentioned Iran as a top tourist destination, adding that even the hot summer weather the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan do not seem to be restraining the flow of foreign travelers from Europe, Australia, South Korea, Japan and China to the country.

In its annual report, Euromonitor International research agency pointed out the untapped potentials of Iran’s tourism industry and noted that Iran could easily become the tourism hub of the region, considering its “wealth of tourist attractions.”  

While the changing perceptions about Iran are harbinger of better days for Iran’s tourism industry, it is now left to the Iranians to live up to the global expectations and strive to make Iran the tourism destination everyone is hoping it to become. As for now, Iranians seem eager to work towards improving their infrastructure and increasing the number of world class hotels and facilities. Whether or not 2015 will be the year for Iran’s tourism to grow in leaps and bounds, the world is keenly waiting to see!