Sat May 30, 2015 6:16AM
A group of prominent hoteliers will visit Iran soon to discuss investment in the country’s tourism.
A group of prominent hoteliers will visit Iran soon to discuss investment in the country’s tourism.

Some of the world's most prominent hotel managers will visit Iran soon to discuss investment in the country’s tourism and construction of luxury hotels, president of World Trade Center Tehran Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour has said. 

“One of these brand names, a large hotel management company, owns more than 150 luxury hotels in five continents and is famous for its services and hospitality,” he said on Saturday, without naming them.

Sabzalipour said extensive negotiations with several big names in the sector had been going on for a year for investment in the construction and renovation of hotels and commercial hotel management.

“After months of consultations and extension of guarantees, we have convinced them to a great extent and paved the way for their presence in the Iranian market.”

The delegates are planned to travel separately and visit tourist destinations and hold talks with Iranian mayors and related state officials as well as private investors.

The ruins of Persepolis in southern Iran

Sabzalipour said although Iran’s tourism is not under US-led sanctions, some recent headways in nuclear negotiations have led to positive openings and encouraged international hoteliers to view the Iranian market with more optimism. 

Iran plans to annually attract 20 million tourists by 2025 which could generate $30 billion of revenues, director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar has said.

Foreign visitors travelling on Iran's Golden Eagle Danube Express tourist train

The country is among the world’s top potential tourist destinations with a treasure trove of ancient sites, including 17 places listed by the UNESCO.

Tourism, however, is a neglected industry in Iran which has relied on oil exports for decades.  

Sabzalipour said global tourism has experienced a phenomenal growth in recent years, prompting a flurry of structural plans in many countries.

“Tourism is now viewed as the third biggest industry in the world in terms of revenue generation and turnover after oil and car-making. According to recent World Tourism Organization data, the industry will grow such that by 2020, it will compete with oil as the biggest hard currency earner.” 

Mosques with their magnificent architecture in Iran

He said Iran currently has the capacity to host between 2 million to 3 million foreign tourists a year, adding the country plans to turn the tourism sector into the second source of revenue after oil.

“Iran has a very distinctive and superior position for attracting tourists. Favorite subjects for tourists are abundant in Iran," Sabzalipour said.

"They include a beautiful nature with its unique climatic and weather features, the country's cultured people with an ancient civilization and their customs as well as its very old sites with their splendid architecture."

Northern Iran on the Asalem-Khalkhal road

Sabzalipour said Iran is regarded as one of the five most important countries in tourism.

"According to a group of leading experts in tourism, every tourist entering Iran could bring in revenues equaling the export of dozens of barrels of oil."   

HB/HB