Iran will face a “tsunami” of foreign tourists once a nuclear agreement is concluded and sanctions on the country are lifted, an official said on Tuesday.
“Nearly 20 million foreign tourists will probably visit Iran within the next five years,” head of the Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Company (ITTIC) Mohsen Qarib said.
Iran is among the world’s top 10 countries for archeological and cultural sites but it comes a dismal 132nd and 160th among 180 world countries in terms of tourism industry and revenues.
Qarib said sanctions and negative propaganda played a role.
“No doubt, sanctions have created certain problems in the tourism sector but the few tourists who come to Iran under the current circumstances are completely satisfied with the treatment they receive from Iranians and impressed by Iranian hospitality.
“This impression is while a massive negative campaign is being waged against Iran outside the country,” Qarib said as he called on tourism agencies abroad to confront the effort.
However, many problems lie at home and tourism in Iran suffers from poor infrastructure.
“In the event of a tourist tsunami in the coming five years, the existing infrastructure is not suitable to receive it,” Qarib said.
Iran needs to build 200 new hotels and do a better job of training in the sector. There are currently 70 hotels with 7,000 rooms which can only handle 350,000 guests.
“For training and raising the quality of our services, we need enormous efforts to educate our tourism industry staff,” Qarib said.
Last month, president of World Trade Center Tehran Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour said 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.
Director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar has said the country plans to generate $30 billion of revenues from tourism by 2025.