Iran experiencing significant boom in Western tourist arrivals

September 9, 2017

TEHRAN – Emerging from years of strict economic sanctions and an image tarnished by certain media outlets, Iran is now experiencing significant boom in Western tourist arrivals as the country harbors a rich cultural heritage and history and maybe above all being home to many hospitable people.

Data provided to Fox News by leading travel intelligence analyst ForwardKeys showed that there has been a five percent growth in Westerners visiting Iran between September 1, 2016 and September 1, 2017 - and Americans make up 14.5 percent of all Western arrivals, Fox News reported on Thursday.

“Political change in Iran is making the country more approachable – an attractive place to visit and potentially do business,” Fox News quoted ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager as saying. “I expect visitor numbers to increase, so long as Iran’s airport capacity can keep pace.”

Iran is finding itself back on travel brochures and is scrambling to up tourism and hospitality standards with an eye set on bolstering its aviation industry to make travels smoother and simpler and to cater to the demands of potential foreign travelers.

In a year on year comparison of tourism revenues, the report said: The total contribution of Travel and Tourism to the country’s GDP in 2016 was 7.7 percent, and it is expected to rise some 4.9 percent in 2017 alone as the once-closed country cracks open its doors, adding “Iranian authorities purport to have made more than $8.3 billion in tourism revenue over the past year, an increase of eleven percent over the previous fiscal year, with around 5.5 million foreign travelers setting foot on Iranian soil.”

“Iran is a bright star. The potential is enormous, Iran is likely to become the leading tourism market in the Middle East and North Africa region, providing the infrastructure is able to develop and cope with changes,” Nikola Kosutic, head of research for the Middle East region at international market research firm Euromonitor, was quoted by the Fox News as saying.

Following a landmark nuclear deal Tehran and world powers clinched in 2015, Iran is repeatedly named as a hot travel destination by a circle of international media outlets. Such array of encouraging accounts have convinced more backpackers to set foot in the country and feel it so that they are able to judge between what they experience and what Western propaganda disseminates.

Filled from corner to corner with ancient bazaars, museums, mosques, monuments, gardens and palaces set inside bustling cities, historical ruins and rich rural landscapes, the country is increasingly filled with camera-wielding Westerners seeking adventure, archeology and art.

Iran has launched extensive plans to bolster its tourism sector. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

PHOTO: A cluster of foreign tourists pose for a photo during their visit to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad. Women are clad in chadors, a shapeless gown that covers their entire body, to respect the required dress code for female pilgrims.

AFM/MG

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