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Iran opens up to upscale tourism

With the lightening of international sanctions that are part of the implementation of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran is planning to develop its tourism sector. As the government announces unprecedented investments in the hotel industry, major international hotel groups are no longer hiding their interest in the market.

At the inauguration of the Espinas Palace hotel in the north of the capital, the president of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Masoud Soltanifar, underlined the new priority of the Iranian government. According to him, close to 125 four- and five- star hotels were built or planned in the country in the last two years. This renewal of the country's hotel supply is unprecedented.

After years of economic sanctions and international isolation, Iran is suffering from a major deficit in hotel supply while the authorities plan to relaunch tourism in this country of 78 million inhabitants with a generally unexploited potential. The government of President Rouhani has already anticipated the progressive lifting of sanctions and significant growth in international arrivals. The goal is to multiply the number of visitors per year times five by the year 2025, in order to reach 20 million arrivals and 30 billion dollars in tourist revenues.

After the Vienna agreement signed last July 14 by the P5+1 countries, international hotel groups confirmed hopes that the country will open up to international tourism. At the end of 2015, the French group AccorHotels was the first western operator to officialize its return to the country with the opening of two new addresses near the international airport in Tehran under the brands ibis and Novotel. According to Iranian press, the Emirati group Rotana also plans to open a five-star hotel with 600 rooms in Tehran, while another property is underway in the Holy city of Mashhad, in the North of the Country. At this beginning of the year 2016, everything leads to believe that the renewal of the Iranian hotel market is only just beginning.

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