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Nuclear deal to boost tourism in Iran

Iran is hoping that this week’s nuclear agreement which lifts economic sanctions will significantly rise the number of tourists visiting the country, increase foreign investments and create more jobs. The decrease in dependence on oil revenues and the possibility to use credit cards in the country will also have great impact on the tourism industry.

Iranians have been suffering for years from the pain of sanctions, which have battered the economy, fueling unemployment. In exchange for agreeing to limits on its nuclear program and new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, Iran stands to receive a broad lifting of international sanctions and more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas.

The positive impacts of the agreement on tourism industry would be wonderful as the positive atmosphere created over the past two years attracted more tourists to Iran.

Masoud Soltanifar, director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO), said this week that foreign hotel groups from Germany, Greece, South Korea and Singapore had visited Iran to “study the Iranian tourism market and its growing attractions”, according to Iranian network Press TV.

Although Iran’s tourism infrastructure remains woefully underdeveloped, Mr Soltanifar said that 11 hotels were built across the country last year, and that more are likely to be built. 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.

The ICHHTO director has previously stressed the importance of tourism for the country, outlining aims to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2025, generating up to $30 billion in revenues. Foreign visitor numbers are currently estimated at around four million.

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.

With a population of about 80 million people, the country has an underdeveloped hospitality market. As one of the world’s top 10 countries for archeological and cultural sites, it comes a dismal 132nd and 160th among 180 world countries in terms of tourism industry and revenues.

Head of the Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Company (ITTIC) Mohsen Qarib said in June the country will face a “tsunami” of foreign tourists once a nuclear agreement is concluded and sanctions on the country are lifted.

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