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    Iran hopes to welcome 20 million tourists a year following nuclear deal - Telegraph

    Iran - Iran hopes to welcome 20 million tourists a year following nuclear deal - Telegraph


    Iran hopes to welcome 20 million tourists a year following nuclear deal
     By Lizzie Porter, travel writer 
    Publish Date: 15 JULY 2015

    Iran’s tourism industry looks set to grow rapidly following the lifting of economic sanctions, with more westerners looking to visit and plans being made for the development of tour companies, hotels and tourist facilities.

    Rotana hotels group, based in Abu Dhabi, confirmed that it is opening four hotels in Iran, while AccorHotels, one of the world's leading hotel groups, has been linked to two four-star hotels in the capital, Tehran.

    Iranians have welcomed the opportunity to develop the country’s historic buildings, ancient sites and its rugged mountains that are ideal for skiing and mountaineering.

    The lifting of sanctions in place against the Islamic Republic will likely make arranging and carrying out trips easier for westerners, who have been visiting in growing numbers since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013. If banking restrictions – which have been in place in various forms since the 1979 revolution – were removed it would facilitate booking transportation and hotels, withdrawing cash, and paying with credit cards when in the country.

    • In pictures: Iran's travel highlights

    Visiting foreigners currently have to go through complicated third parties in other countries to use credit cards to pay for souvenirs, such as Persian carpets. Mainstream online reservation platforms do not work, and even paying for a tour from the UK can be difficult.

    Iran and western politicians struck a deal in Vienna that would see the Islamic Republic's nuclear development powers limited, in exchange for a lifting of the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

    The world's most beautiful mountains

    Iran has mountains suitable for trekking and climbing, such as Mt Damavand  Photo: AP/FOTOLIA

    British tour operators may also be able to increase the range of tours they offer to Iran, as improved banking and communications would mean easier relationships with ground operators. This is particularly key for Britons, who are currently only allowed to visit Iran on organised trips, as visas are not granted for independent travel and hotels cannot be booked without an agent.

    David McGuinness, director of adventure travel company Travel the Unknown, and a regular visitor to Iran, said that making payments is “currently hugely difficult”, adding that “even payments between UK accounts where the name of an Iran tour is mentioned can be blocked. Payments to local suppliers are more difficult again. It is not yet clear when this might change – but at least the prospect is now on the horizon.”

    A timeline for the easing of banking restrictions has not been agreed, although sanctions cannot be lifted until the US Congress has adopted this week’s deal, which will not be for at least 60 days.

    Bekhradi's Historic House is a restored 400-year old house, now a hotel, in IsfahanBekhradi's Historic House is a restored 400-year old house, now a hotel, in Isfahan  Photo: Bekhradi's Historic House

    Iranians are positive about how the lifting of sanctions will allow them to develop tourism businesses. Morteza Bekhradi, the owner of Bekhradi’s Historical House boutique hotel in Isfahan, hoped that the booking process would become easier. “Our current process for reservations is only carried out via exchange of emails with our guests, and our rooms are booked without any guarantee. It is of course not a convenient situation for tourists and for us, as people working in the tourism field.”

    Mr Bekhradi - who transformed the traditional 17th-century house into a hotel that opened in 2005 - said that Iranians are “more than eager” to share their culture and history with foreigners, and that more internal and/or foreign investments in tourism would make the country’s transport infrastructure better.

    • Iran: the new must-see holiday destination

    In addition to the removal of banking sanctions, Mr Bekhradi said that reservation platforms, such as Booking.com, will need to show willing to work with Iran.

    Up until now, those working in Iran's tourism industry - like the population at large - have faced high inflation, supply limitations and restricted Internet access, all of which make running a business difficult.

    Online booking platforms may make accommodation reservations at places like Bekhradi's Historic House hotel much easier Online booking platforms may make accommodation reservations at places like Bekhradi's Historic House hotel much easier   Photo: Bekhradi's Historic House

    Raquel Martin, a nutritional therapist from London who went on a tour to Iran earlier this year, said that having to pay for everything in cash made unplanned shopping difficult, for fear of running out of money, but that she liked Iran's diversity, from the "architectural gem" of Isfahan to the bazaar and different cultures to be found in Kerman. She added: "Above all, I really liked the people - they are so warm and friendly, really keen to come up and talk to you and to show you their country. They are desperate to be part of the international community once again."

    • In pictures: Iran as you've never seen it

    Britons who want to visit Iran will continue to face difficulties, however. The Foreign Office still advises against visiting the country – making insurance hard to obtain – and visa applications are complicated and expensive because the Iranian Embassy in London has been shut since 2011. “People are inherently worried about travelling to what they see as a pariah state”, said Mr McGuinness. “The visa complications compound it, putting off all but the most determined, though that is a growing group, as the rewards are well worth it."


    Spring chill out @Bekhradi_House #tourisme @PhotoTripIran@tourism_iran @MeetIran pic.twitter.com/w339t1n8ng

    — Bekhradi's House (@Bekhradi_House) 14 Mai 2015


    Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, told the House of Commons this week that he hoped to "be in a position" to reopen the British embassy in Tehran before the end of the year. Such consular representation may mean that the Foreign Office relaxes its travel advisories. A Foreign Office spokesperson said its travel advice remains the same despite the historic deal, while recommending that British nationals check its website regularly for updates.

    • Foreign Secretary announces reopening of British embassy in Tehran

    The ancient city of Persepolis is ubiquitous on tours of IranThe ancient city of Persepolis is ubiquitous on tours of Iran  Photo: AP

    She added that Iran and Britain remained committed to a mutual reopening of embassies, and said "we will do so once we have resolved some outstanding issues."

    Masoud Soltanifar, director of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO), said this week that foreign hotel groups from Germany, Greece, South Korea and Singapore had visited Iran to “study the Iranian tourism market and its growing attractions”, according to Iranian network Press TV.

    Although Iran's tourism infrastructure remains woefully underdeveloped, Mr Soltanifar said that 11 hotels were built across the country last year, and that more are likely to be built.The ICHHTO director has previously stressed the importance of tourism for the country, outlining aims to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2025, generating up to $30 billion in revenues. Foreign visitor numbers are currently estimated at around four million.

    The city of Yazd, on the edge of the desert, has mosques and mud-brick houses. The city of Yazd, on the edge of the desert, has mosques and mud-brick houses.   Photo: AP

    Rotana hotels group has four hotels in development in Iran – two in Mashhad and two in Tehran – all of which will open by 2018. Omer Kaddouri, president and CEO, said: “With the lifting of sanctions, we are sure that all developers and operators will be racing to secure their position in one of the world’s largest untapped markets.”

    The former InterContinental hotel in Tehran, reputedly a favourite with journalists and diplomats in the last days of the Shah, is described by travellers as a faded example of pre-revolutionary luxury, but is currently run by the Iranian Laleh group.

    InterContinental owners, the IHG group, which also operates Holiday Inn, told Telegraph Travel it did not have any hotels “in the pipeline” in Iran as the country is “not a key focus market for us”.

    AccorHotels has been linked to two hotels in Tehran, and the group sees the country as ripe for development.

    Christophe Landais, chief operating officer of AccorHotels Middle East, confirmed that the company was "in advanced negotiations regarding management agreements" for two Tehran hotels under the ibis and Novotel brands.

    "We expect the recent agreements to potentially open up tremendous opportunities and rapid growth for the hospitality and tourism industry in Iran", he added.

    Starwood and Hilton, who also used to manage hotels in Iran before contracts were severed, did not respond to requests for comment about potential development in Iran.

    Iran has 19 sites on the Unesco World Heritage Site list – the most of any Middle Eastern country – with two new additions this year of Maymand in central Iran, and the archaeological site of Susa.

    The cultural landscape of Maymand has been added to the Unesco world heritage site list The cultural landscape of Maymand has been added to the Unesco world heritage site list   Photo: Maymand Cultural Heritage Base

    Ali Araghchi, founder of an unofficial tourism campaign for Iran, "Must See Iran" (mustseeiran.com) said he hoped to be able to show Iranian hospitality to the world, and claimed that foreigners already realise Iran has "2,500 years of culture and that our people are not terrorists.”


    Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Iranian architecture #MustSeeIran@JaapFrederiks pic.twitter.com/ouZ1FCvD8K

    — Must See Iran (@MustSeeIran) 13 Juillet 2015


    Some 300,000 photos have been shared on social media platforms as part of the "Must See Iran" campaign, showing the country’s dramatic mountains, clear Gulf seas and authentic bazaars.

    Mr McGuinness highlighted other sites that feature on many itineraries to the country. “Yazd is the Zoroastrian [the predominant religion of Iran in the pre-Islamic period] focal point and one of the world's oldest mud-brick cities”, he said, while the city of Isfahan is, “the pinnacle of Islamic art and architecture that is full of mosques and palaces that require superlatives.”

    Source: telegraph


    About Us

    The word Persia gives the image of a magical and mysterious land of far away and long ago, of ancient monuments and beautiful works of art – carpets, tiles, fine ceramics and miniatures. It also reminds us of legendary and tragic love stories and epic poems about great wars. And Persia is indeed a world ancient and contemporary, a bridge between heaven and earth. We want to show you around. Discover things to do on your next trip to Iran and plan a trip of your lifetime. Yes, it is that easy! This website gives you the tools to plan your trip to Iran: detailed information on destinations; inspiring ideas on what to see and do in each city; where to stay; where to eat; travel guides and let’s say everything you need so you can dream up a trip to Iran.


    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.