Tuesday, 14 January, 2020

Tourism Will Boost in Iran after Nuclear Deal

By: Bobbie

Iran, host to many unique cultural treasures largely unseen by western eyes, is expecting a significant rise in the number of tourists visiting the country in the wake of historic nuclear deal.
President Hassan Rouhani’s government is taking fresh measures to ease or abolish visa requirements for most foreign visitors and build as many as 200 new hotels, as existing accommodation is insufficient to cater for the spike in tourism that has occurred since his election in 2013.
Iran’s vice-president for tourism said that “bright days” lie ahead for the country’s tourism industry following the nuclear agreement struck in Vienna.
“No other industry in Iran will see a bigger boost than tourism as the result of this deal,” he said. “The news about the nuclear agreement and lifting of economic sanctions has delighted our tourism industry.” Soltanifar announced earlier in July that Iran was increasing the length of tourist visas from 15 days to one month, and from as early as next year tourist visas could be issued electronically.
Earlier this month, Unesco added two more ancient sites – Susa archaeological mounds and the stunning Meymand village – the 18th and 19th sites on Iran’s world heritage list
Iran is home to some of the world’s most magnificent historical and archaeological sites with ancient ruins, glittering mosques and spectacular landscapes. Relics of a proud ancient civilization include: Persepolis, the capital of the largest empire that the world has ever seen; the city of Isfahan; Shiraz, the city of love and poetry; and Hamadan, where Avicenna, the father of early modern medicine, is buried. The capital Tehran is famous for having ski resorts on its doorstep.
Michael Pullman, marketing manager of UK-based tour operator Wild Frontiers, which has been taking western tourists to Iran for the past 10 years, said demands for Iran tours have soared since the nuclear deal was reached earlier this week. He also said that since 2013 demand to visit Iran has increased significantly, and last year the tour operator, which specializes in small, tailor-made group tours, took 150 people. He expects that number to increase by 30% this year.
The reactions from westerners visiting Iran is remarkable, he added: “They all come back unanimously saying it’s their ‘new’ country. The sites are one thing – there’s just stunning Islamic architecture and ancient sites, such as Persopolis – but everyone seems to agree that it’s the people that are the biggest surprise.”
David McGuinness from Travel The Unknown, echoed Pullman: “When Dr. Rouhani got elected, it made a sea-change difference in terms of bookings. Immediately we saw a rise in bookings for Iran, it suddenly became one of our most popular destinations.” His company, which took 100 people to Iran last year, has already planned several other tours – two classic and archeology tours in September and four more in October, including off-the-beaten-track tours.
But is Iran safe to visit? McGuinness said: “The country is very safe, I have traveled there myself five or six times over the last two years and we have never had any problems with anybody. Iran is probably the most friendly, most welcoming country I’ve ever been in.”
Pullman agreed: “I felt very safe. With what’s going on at the moment with Isis, if you look at the countries surrounding Iran, such as Syria and Iraq, they are unsafe but Iran is quite a strictly-controlled country, it’s 90% Shia and there’s no kind of Sunni-Shia friction. You feel safe walking in the streets, I felt safer there than I do in most places in London.”
Pullman visited Iran last year and noted that: “Iran has an incredibly young population, I think over 60% is under 35; it has a history of being a cultured nation, and very well-educated. It also has one of the highest female university rates anywhere in the world.”
The UAE-based Rotana hotels is planning to open a number of hotels in Iran, and France’s leading hotelier, Accor, is involved in at least two four-star hotels in the country. Iranian officials have expressed hope that the country could attract as many as 20 million visitors a year by 2025.

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