Iran to invest $25 billion in tourism development

As international brands look to gain a foothold in the country, Iran has developed an investment package worth $25 billion to revitalize its tourism industry.

Following years of economic sanctions, the country is reportedly working to diversify its foreign exchange earnings away from "petrodollars." Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization head Masoud Soltanifar told Payvand Iran News that in Iran's 2025 vision plan, the country is looking to annually host 20 million foreign tourists. These visitors, he added, could generate between $25-30 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

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“For tourism development in Iran, our organization has prepared a package for $25 billion of investment in 1,300 projects,” he said on the sidelines of a signing ceremony to hand over two hotels in Tehran to AccorHotels.

Hotel groups from several countries are pushing to boost their portfolios in Iran, which is being tagged as the most lucrative emerging hospitality development market following the nuclear accord. International entrepreneurs and business leaders are actively seeking opportunities in the country of 80 million people.

Iran’s hospitality market is reportedly "immensely underdeveloped" and the country is in need of brisk development of its tourism infrastructure. The first step in the process is to increase the number of four- and five-star hotels. Of the nation's  1,100 hotels, only 130 are in the four- or five-star category.

“By 2025, the number of four- and five-star hotels in Iran must rise to 400,” Soltanifar said, adding that 125 such hotels are currently under construction with physical progress of between 5-90 percent.

According to Iranian officials, hotel groups from Germany, Greece, South Korea and Singapore have recently traveled to Iran for talks.