Staying in Tehran; When Enough is Not Enough

Staying in Tehran; When Enough is Not EnoughStaying in Tehran; When Enough is Not Enough

Tourism is indeed a major source of income for many countries and there are many nations that have based their economy on tourism.

Meticulous planning, effective introduction of a tourist attractions, and more importantly, developing the tourism infrastructure are among measures that need to be taken if a country wants to earn the revenue that this industry is capable of churning out.

One of the most significant infrastructure to attract tourists is the number and the quality of hotels and, in general, lodging facilities.

The quality of hotels can measurably affect the number of travelers to a country, their period of residence, and their future return. Therefore many countries come up with ideas to expand the variety of hotels based on quality and price to meet the needs of a wider range of travelers. Although not all tourists are rich but a tourist visiting a country equals foreign exchange earning.

This is while Iran – due to lack of infrastructure and despite its high tourism potentials, incredible biodiversity, and a large number of historical, ancient, and natural tourist attractions – has not been very successful in attracting tourists from around the world.

  Tourist Hub

As a metropolitan city and capital of Iran, Tehran can play the role of a tourist hub and have a considerable share of visitors to the country; but lack of tourism infrastructure such as hotels is one of the main reasons to remove the name of Tehran from the list of most visited by tourists.

According to the local media, no proper lodging facilities have been provided in Tehran in the past 30 years, and the sum total of travelers who picked it as their tourist destination is not impressive.

Although, parallel to the increase in population, the number of public recreation centers, restaurants, halls, and etc. has increased, however the figure of Tehran 5-star hotels has changed by just one digit; from 4 to 5.

Head of tourism and services at Iran chamber of commerce, Mahmoud Kaveh, points out the most of the 4 and 5-star hotels in Tehran are more than 35 years old; their facilities and structure are not surprisingly, dilapidated.

He told the Persian daily Forsat Emruz that the required standards for a 4 or 5-star hotel are not observed and there have been complaints, about a door knob not working for instance, as many services and facilities in the capitals’ multi-star hotels are obsolete.

He stresses the need for constructing chain hotels if the country has an eye on tourism revenue through expansion of the tourism industry and attracting more visitors.

He sets cities like Mecca and Medina (both in Saudi Arabia), or Dubai (in the UAE), as examples in which numerous luxury, chain, and multi-star hotels are annually added to the previously long list of existing accommodation facilities.

As statistics obtained from hospitality industry experts indicate, currently there are about 130 hotels, hotel apartments, and guest houses in Tehran, 124 of which were built over 35 years ago and have been renovated dozens of times.

  Occupancy Rate

Tehran is not considered a religious or touristic sightseeing destination. As a result, the occupancy rate of the hotels in the capital is notably less compared to other cities; it is specifically low during the weekends meaning from Wednesday evening till Friday night. Same happens to Tehran hotel rooms during long public holidays like Nowruz.

Most of the capital’s hotels are occupied by domestic tourists; although there are a few rare instances: the manager of Shiyan hotel, in Lavizan neighborhood, northeast of Tehran, claims a high occupancy rate during all four seasons of the year, especially in summer.

One the administrators of this hotel stated that a large number of foreign tourists, mostly from Europe and Persian Gulf countries, select Shiyan as the place to stay.

  High Tariff

Considering the insufficient number of travelers staying in Tehran hotels, the tariff for a night in a double room of a 5-star hotel like Parsian Esteghlal, Parsian Azadi, Laleh, Homa, and Espinas is over $133 and the same price for one, two, and three-star hotels of Tehran exceeds $50.

The lowest tariff per night is for Golestan hotel in Tehran which starts from $16. Espinas is the most expensive hotel in Tehran, where a night costs a traveler from $143 and upwards.

  Expertise Lacking

On the other hand, the chairman of hotels and hotel apartments union, Mohammad Ali Farrokh-Mehr, believes that the problem lies not with the number of multi-star hotels or their capacity, as he says there are enough hotels, but expert human resources are lacking.

He told Forsat Emruz that tourists demand high quality services and to provide them that, calls for an experienced and trained work force.

On the high rates of the hotels, he noted that due to the low occupancy rate and as the rooms in multi-star hotels are left unoccupied for long periods of time, hotel managers are unable to reduce or offer discounts in price, as doing so will be equivalent to financial loss and a noticeable decrease in their annual turnover.


As a member of tourism and cultural heritage commission of the parliament, Abouzar Nadimi, puts it “to boost tourism, provide better services, and complete and develop infrastructure to create more investment.”

He emphasizes the necessity to “attract investors from European and Arab countries” to help launch “more construction projects in the tourism industry”.

Incentives to encourage private sector investors should be also implemented, Nadimi says, adding that incentives such as tax exemption have been included in the bill to eliminate manufacturing obstacles for investors who are interested in the tourism industry.

Considering all these factors, and keeping in mind the intense competition between countries to earn more from tourism, it is vital for Iran’s tourism industry that the authorities begin to plan more painstakingly and with a broader horizon.