According to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, 35 four- and five-star hotels will become operational by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2018).
Saeed Shirkavand, deputy for investment at ICHHTO, said 15 hotels are scheduled to open before the end of the incumbent administration’s tenure (summer 2017) and 20 more by March 2018.
“Up until 2013, the number of four- and five-star hotels operating in the country stood at 130, but since the current government came to power three years ago, an additional 30 hotels have been built,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
“This shows a considerable growth from an economic point of view.”
Addressing a press briefing for the International Tourism Investment Conference slated for October 2-3, the official said once this target is achieved, a total of 65 hotels will have been launched in just four years—a 50% growth in the country’s hotel industry that can attract foreign investors.
Data show 175 four- and five-star establishments are currently under construction with a progress of between 20% and 80%.
Speaking about the conference, Shirkavand said the event seeks to create new capacities in the tourism industry, identify the challenges, obstacles and deficiencies in the hotel industry, encourage individuals and companies to get involved in the sector and persuade state organizations to support the industry.
“The main purpose is to seize the opportunities of the post-sanctions era and prepare the ground for foreign investors and reputable global brands to make their move and enter the Iranian market,” he said.
The official added that many conferences have been held for the development of tourism but this is certainly the biggest event aimed at attracting investors.
Asked why a number of preliminary contracts with foreign investors have not been implemented yet, the official did not give a clear explanation, merely saying that attempts are aimed at facilitating investment and any possible obstacle should be removed.
“Even if we manage to sign only three contracts in this conference, it will still be a major achievement,” said Shirkavand, possibly trying to lower expectations.
Tourism authorities are expected to unveil a highly-anticipated hotel investment package at the conference.
“The package provides a detailed account of investment opportunities in the hotel industry,” said Gholamheidar Ebrahimbai Salami, executive secretary of the conference.
“We have reminded relevant officials that attracting foreign tourists—along with the subsequent inflow of foreign currency—is not possible unless quality hotels and lodging facilities are provided,” said Salami, who is also the director of Tourism Holding Company (a subsidiary of Social Security Organization).
The official noted that comparing Iran’s hotel industry with that of countries like the UAE, Turkey and Malaysia, one could easily conclude that Iran has a long road ahead.
Banks have also been invited to participate in the event to secure their involvement in facilitating investment in the hotel sector.
“Banks have failed to see tourism as an investment opportunity for 30 years and it is high time they got involved,” he said.
The International Tourism Investment Conference will be held on October 2-3 at the Iran International Conference Center and Homa Hotel consecutively. About 50 international firms are expected to attend the event, which is said to be the largest of its kind in Iran.