Hoteliers and investors are looking at Iran with an increased sense of interest, as time as gone by since the sanctions were lifted.
Hotelier Middle East polled the members of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) advisory board about whether the time is ripe to invest in Iran, as opposed to waiting for a little longer. 51.43% said it was the right time to enter Iran.
In fact, in the Hotelier Middle East GM Survey 2016, one general manager reported that Iran is an opportunity to keep an eye on in the next year, and s/he said: “Iran is opening up, and oil prices are expected to rise in 2017”, with another saying s/he would love to operate a property in Tehran.
The organiser of AHIC, Bench Events, is also looking at Iran, and is set to host the first Iran Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (IHTIC) in February 2017.
Under the 2025 Tourism Vision plan, Iran is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million by 2025. The 4.8 million tourists brought around $6.5 billion in revenue to the country despite sanctions and limitations imposed by the EU, the UN and the USA. With the lifting of sanctions in January, it is expected that by 2025 the country will receive $30 billion from tourism income.
Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO, AccorHotels speaking at AHIF 2015 said: “The Iranian market is a top priority for AccorHotels, as are Africa and India. These three geographies are ones where I want to make a major push. They have a lot of things in common: civilization, architecture, demography, booming medium-sized enterprises, lack of supply, lack of infrastructure and lack of low-cost airlines.”
Other hotel operators have also seen the potential and entered the market already. Abu Dhabi-based Rotana Hotel Management Corp. has signed management agreements for four hotels in Iran – two in Tehran (opening in 2018) and two in Mashad (opening in 2017). Melià Hotels International is planning to open a 319-room hotel in 2017 on the Caspian Sea, with investment coming from a third party.