THE CHALLENGE OF LIVING UP TO THE OPEN DOOR POLICY

Iran announces a huge hike in tourist figures, but needs to get its house in order in order to host visitors…

The walls have come down, nuclear non-proliferation deals signed, and visa free entry available to travellers from around the world.

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Arge Bam Arad

Iran’s authorities have cheerfully announced that the country will be one of the next years’ top tourist destinations. However a critical lack of infrastructure means meeting the challenge of hosting all these new tourists, hungry to see the incredible historical and cultural sites that are now “open to all”, is a real challenge.

In June of this year, Iran’s Urban Development minister Abbas Akhoundi announced that the average age of the current fleet of 166 Iranian passenger aircraft was so old they almost all need to be retired immediately. The average age of the planes is 23 years, and only 12 aircraft in Iran are less than 16 years old.

The minister announced that the country would need to have over 550 new planes flying by 2025. Negotiations to this end have begun with Boeing and Airbus, and no less than 100 Boeing aircraft as well as 118 Airbus planes have been ordered so far this year. The Airbus jets include 45 A320 single-aisle aircraft, 45 A330 wide- bodied jets, 16 A350 twin-aisle models, and 12 A380’s.

THE NATION SEEKS TO PUT TOURISM REVENUES ON A PAR WITH OIL REVENUES WITHIN LESS THAN TEN YEARS

Meanwhile, in May 2016, a deputy to the Iranian president, announcing enhanced tourism ties with China, said that the country urgently needed to build at least 300 3-5 star hotels in the near future to meet demand.

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Maranjab Dunes, Kavir Desert

Iran’s government announced earlier in the year that it had drawn up a roadmap aiming to build incoming tourist figures to 20-million by 2025, generating US$30bn income. Conscious of the nite nature of the oil industry, the nation seeks to put tourism revenues on a par with oil revenues within less than ten years.

Announcing the project, the head of the country’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Masoud Soltanifar, stated that the country had the potential to satisfy the needs of all types of tourists, given its diverse climates, the huge number of historical sites, pilgrimage destinations, and great opportunities for health tourism.

Medical tourism will be among the key “USPs” of Iran, as the costs of medical treatments in Iran are said to be around one fifth of those in Europe.